Why the disappearance of centuries-old electric car technology is a problem

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More and more car manufacturers have decided to do without AM radio. This is particularly the case with electric cars, due to interference issues. But the lack of AM radio could cause some security issues.

VW ID.  2all
VW ID. 2all – infotainment system

Today’s recent automobiles are all equipped with infotainment systems, each one more technological than the last. It is now possible to take advantage of many features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while some manufacturers have partnered with services like Apple Music, such as Audi. Not to mention virtual assistants like the one offered by Mercedes, while General Motors even wants to integrate artificial intelligence with ChatGPT.

An essential feature

However, more and more brands have decided to give up an essential feature. Is about AM Radio (the old long waves), which is now on its way out in our cars, and more specifically in the latest electric models launched on the market. In fact, many manufacturers now consider it obsolete.

This is particularly the case for BMW, which had already dropped it from its i3 and 2014, or Tesla, which decided to drop it in 2018 on its Model S. But this trend continues to accelerate, while Ford and Volvo have decided not to. integrate this technology at all in the future, with a few exceptions. As the site explains ford authoritywhich specifies that the F-150 Lightning still has it.

Source: ford

This will not last long, because the American pick-up, a rival to the Tesla Cybertruck, will soon do without it in turn. This will also be the case with the new Mustang, which will become 100% electric without going through the hybrid box as initially planned. According to the US site the edgea dozen car brands have planned stop offering AM radio in your cars in the more or less short term.

Among them are Mazda, Mercedes, Polestar, Rivian, Volkswagen and BMW, among others. Instead. For the latter, this technology simply would not be not compatible with electric cars. But how is this done? According to these manufacturers, this type of motor would generate electromagnetic interference with AM waves.

A security problem

An article published in 2016 by Vice explained that ” Electric vehicles are powered by a rechargeable battery, an electric motor, and a frequency converter that controls the power of these motors by switching the voltage on and off thousands of times per second, cutting off the power. This process causes electromagnetic interference. that are picked up by the radio« .

This explains why more and more people decide to opt for alternative technologies, such as FM radio or DAB+, an increasingly popular digital delivery system. On paper, this may seem trivial, and yet, the demise of AM radio poses real problems. In fact, US Senator Ed Markey explains that this technology is “irreplaceable.”

The round steering wheel in a Tesla Model S

He remembers that AM radio operates at lower frequencies, which can therefore travel further and which can pass through solid objects, which is less the case with FM waves. It is this particular system that is used by the authorities to alert the population in the event of an emergency, such as natural disasters. Therefore, the senator wrote a letter to manufacturers urging them not to eliminate this technology.

Several have already stated that they don’t want to do without AM radio right away, such as Lucid, Kia, Nissan, Stellantis or even Honda. General Motors and Mercedes have not yet ruled on the issue. The disappearance of this technology would therefore be particularly damage to people in rural areasthat do not always have an FM antenna and less Internet access.

But beware, you have to clarify the essential side of AM radio. An extreme minority of listeners listen to the radio with this broadcast mode. Most have been on FM radio for decades, or even digital terrestrial radio (DAB+) or Internet radio. In fact, AM radio has been around since the early 1900s. But it is true that in the event of a natural disaster, AM radio is mostly used.

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