When Radio Ink publisher Eric Rhoads breathlessly reported in March 2013 that auto manufacturers were considering doing away with AM/FM radios in their glass dashboards, the reaction was disbelief. But new developments are undeniable: BMW announced the specs of two of its new electric vehicles earlier this month, and neither include AM radio (or a CD player).
BMW says the cars’ electric motor interferes with AM reception. Could this become a trend among other electric-powered vehicles? Broadcasters obviously hope not, and the NAB has reached out to BMW asking it to reconsider. Coupled with Disney’s recent decision to get out of AM broadcasting, one wonders if the oldest broadcast band is inexorably shuffling toward obsolescence.
It would also seem that something similar may be happening with HD Radio. General Motors has removed HD functionality from a wide array of 2015 vehicles, including the Chevy Traverse, Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, Chevy Impala, Buick Enclave, and Buick Regal. Many (but not all) of these makes and models will have wireless broadband connectivity added to their infotainment stacks.
Earlier this spring, Consumer Reports highlighted HD Radio as a feature to avoid when buying a new car. Presumably GM is reacting to market demands—and if so, it does not portend well for the malaise that is HD adoption. There’s been no reaction yet from iBiquity or the NAB on these developments.