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posted by hubie on Sunday July 10, @10:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the not-good-news-for-radio-shack dept.

They say it's because of audio quality, but it isn't that simple:

It's easy to take for granted amenities in our cars like air conditioning and the radio, which have been standard equipment for longer than many of us have been alive. But the rise of electric vehicles is giving the auto industry the chance to rethink norms and jettison ideas that belong in the past. One of those ideas may be AM radios, which some carmakers say they won't include on future EVs, and which are already unavailable on a few. Car companies blame interference from EVs' drivetrains, but the answer isn't that simple—not by a long shot.

[....] EVs from Audi, BMW, Porsche, Tesla, and Volvo are sold without AM radios, and it's been that way for years.

[....] So are highly complex EVs incompatible with one of the oldest, simplest electronics? BMW and Volvo told me it was due to audio quality problems rooted in electromagnetic interference, of which EVs' drivetrains produce a significant amount. Cars' engines and other complex electronics have always made EM interference, but low-wattage static is relatively easy to shield against. It's not as simple with EVs that may pull hundreds of watts from their batteries

[....] But it's hard to take them at their word when EVs are built with AM radios and in no small numbers. Detroit's Three—Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis—have produced or currently make EVs that include AM radio

Can radio be an addiction? I suppose it depends on the frequency.

Will the FCC cry foul if there is interference? Only if the batter hinders the catcher after a third strike.


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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Gaaark on Sunday July 10, @10:41PM (1 child)

    by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Sunday July 10, @10:41PM (#1259599) Journal

    Probably a money saving venture.

    Dunno... just wanted to say "What's the frequency, Kenneth?"

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by captain normal on Monday July 11, @03:14AM

      by captain normal (2205) on Monday July 11, @03:14AM (#1259641)

      You beat me to it...
      Back on topic: AM radio was part of our lives. It could (and still can) cover huge amounts of land and sea. Not only was it great for listening to Wolfman Jack on cross country drives, it was a great tool for navigation on the high sea. The broadcast towers were a fixture on nautical charts so with a fairly simple radio direction finder you could get a good bearing from them. Bearings to two stations gave you a pretty good fix, lines to three stations where a right on fix.
      You can still do that but there are not as many high power AM stations these days. I still have a couple of my old RDF radios, they work great in the mountains where it's a FM dead zone.

      --
      “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by corey on Sunday July 10, @10:42PM

    by corey (2202) on Sunday July 10, @10:42PM (#1259600)

    They’re probably not wrong. It is not easy to control the EMC of high current switching electronics. The trams in Melbourne and their power lines always screw with my AM radio reception. But there are standards I’m sure they need to meet (eg. EN 61000), but I’m not sure that even meeting that would mitigate radio interference at close proximity.

    I think it’sa big part saving costs and letting go of old technology, as they did with tape decks and cd stackers.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by looorg on Sunday July 10, @11:04PM (13 children)

    by looorg (578) on Sunday July 10, @11:04PM (#1259603)

    Was not FM-radio, am-radio isnt very common in cars in Europe, getting replaced by DAB/DAB+ (Digital Audio Broadcasting)? So it has or had to be dropped eventually.

    AM radio stations and their listeners are all but gone in Europe, so European carmakers may not need to include technology that many of its customers can't use.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Rich on Monday July 11, @12:27AM (12 children)

      by Rich (945) on Monday July 11, @12:27AM (#1259615) Journal

      The AM stations are getting wound down here in Germany, and the few remaining are mostly transmitted on FM, too, so there's usually no real need to receive AM. I have an AM capable radio in a 2006 car, but I don't think I've ever used it. But I recently had an older car re-fitted with a DAB+ unit (yay for DIN radio slots!!!) and I have to say that this beats FM hands down. However people are either pissed off because their car has FM in a non-DIN format and they can't replace it, or they were early adopters of DAB, which is incompatible with DAB+. Also, there's little worth in the extra channels, because 95% of them play the same shit (80s charts) over and over to fill the gaps between their annoying advertisements.

      Rather than focusing on FM, I think they should (slowly) phase that out, move the junk to DAB+ and keep AM. AM is a solid fallback when parts of the infrastructure fail. As a kid, I built a little passive AM radio: long antenna wire, coil, tuning capacitor, diode, earplug. Definitely not a lifestyle choice, but 100% availability. Giving that up is a bit like giving up the POTS for VoIP (but still charge like for POTS, to maximize profits), or, at a wider scope, outsourcing all manufacturing capacity to somewhere in Asia.

      • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Monday July 11, @01:24AM (1 child)

        by mhajicek (51) on Monday July 11, @01:24AM (#1259625)

        Can't remember the last time I used radio. It's either streaming music through my phone, or some of my massive mp3 collection. My car doesn't need to receive any signals.

        --
        The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
        • (Score: 5, Insightful) by coolgopher on Monday July 11, @03:24AM

          by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 11, @03:24AM (#1259643)

          The most annoying feature in my current car is its insistence on defaulting to radio if the most-recently-used media isn't found. So whenever I've had the phone plugged in for navigation, the next time I get blasted by radio static (bad), or radio ads (worse). I wish I could just disable the whole radio component, but of course the source isn't available for the head unit. Sigh.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by sjames on Monday July 11, @02:32AM (2 children)

        by sjames (2882) on Monday July 11, @02:32AM (#1259629) Journal

        The emergency availability is absolutely on point. In addition to easy to improvise receivers (including the trench radio made from a razor blade, a pencil, and headphones), AM transmitters are pretty easy as well.

        As for costs, that part of the spectrum isn't good for much else and a simple AM radio is cheap enough to be a givaway at a trade show.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @01:36PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @01:36PM (#1259769)

          Emergency availability... of what? Christian propaganda? I think I'd rather eat my own flesh in peace.

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by sjames on Monday July 11, @07:10PM

            by sjames (2882) on Monday July 11, @07:10PM (#1259863) Journal

            In times of emergency, the Preacher is moved aside and actual useful information is broadcast.

            At other times, at least he is in a radio booth where you can literally tune him out and not pestering people door to door.

      • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Monday July 11, @03:55AM (6 children)

        by Mykl (1112) on Monday July 11, @03:55AM (#1259645)

        The main problem with AM is that the audio quality is terrible. It's the whole reason FM got up in the first place all those years ago. It's going to be hard to convince people to stay with AM when it sounds so bad.

        • (Score: 2) by Some call me Tim on Monday July 11, @04:06AM (5 children)

          by Some call me Tim (5819) on Monday July 11, @04:06AM (#1259648)

          It really depends on the situation. If some natural or man made disaster takes down almost everything but a few AM stations, that razor blade, pencil and crystal earphones are going to sound pretty damn good. Normal life, not so much. *shrugs*.

          --
          Questioning science is how you do science!
          • (Score: 3, Touché) by Mykl on Monday July 11, @05:13AM (4 children)

            by Mykl (1112) on Monday July 11, @05:13AM (#1259660)

            Agree, but it's a pretty narrow edge case. I doubt that the Venn diagram of Tesla owners and Survival Preppers has a large overlap.

            • (Score: 2) by Rich on Monday July 11, @11:36AM

              by Rich (945) on Monday July 11, @11:36AM (#1259727) Journal

              Well, the Cybertruck might be a sensible choice for the Mad Max III scenario, where the primary energy source is biogas generated electricity. At least as long as the batteries last. Long term choice would be a VW Golf 1 Diesel which runs on about everything that resembles oil - and also has an AM radio if it comes in original condition!

            • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Monday July 11, @03:15PM (2 children)

              by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Monday July 11, @03:15PM (#1259793)

              I doubt that the Venn diagram of Tesla owners and Survival Preppers has a large overlap.

              That's a real shame. It's a pain in the Heineken to make your own Gasoline or Diesel, compared to charging your Tesla off a grid tie or grid independent solar array. You can save the planet and be ready for just in case too.

              To go ahead and cover what you'll say next: "But what about an EMP?" Good question. We don't have data for EVs. When USGOV tested non-ev cars in a simulated EMP, all were fine after a reboot. That testing stopped in 2002.

              As a prepper, I'm uncomfortable with Tesla's skynet/big brother OTA update system, but that's not unique to Tesla. It's in most major cars now. They collect enough telemetry to make Microsoft blush.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Runaway1956 on Monday July 11, @01:06AM (2 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 11, @01:06AM (#1259621) Homepage Journal

    At home, where the radio doesn't move, you can pick up AM stations from way over the horizon. In the car, you'll pick it up, then lose it, it comes back, and you lose it. FM radio is short range, but it stays pretty constant until you drive out of range. All the years I drove truck, I tuned into FM radio stations, or I played cassettes, or I just turned the stereo off. Pretty much the only times I even tried to tune in AM stations, were in emergencies, like blizzards, hurricanes, and tornadoes. When a power outage turned off the entire state of Kentucky and much of Ohio, short range FM radio just wasn't cutting it. Oddly, with a state wide blackout, AM radio seemed more stable than normal.

    --
    There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
    • (Score: 2) by Some call me Tim on Monday July 11, @04:00AM (1 child)

      by Some call me Tim (5819) on Monday July 11, @04:00AM (#1259646)

      A lot of that depends on where you are. When a power failure takes out a whole state the only guys still operating most of the time are the "Clear Channel" stations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clear-channel_station [wikipedia.org] and the lack of interference from all the others makes it easier to tune them in. I'm on the west coast in central California and I have no trouble picking up the Clear Channel stations from San Francisco to San Diego any time of the day. I guess in case of everything going to hell due to natural disaster or whatever, these stations are there to provide news about when you should put your head between your knees so you can kiss your backside goodbye.

      --
      Questioning science is how you do science!
      • (Score: 4, Informative) by dalek on Monday July 11, @11:38AM

        by dalek (15489) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 11, @11:38AM (#1259728) Journal

        AM radio is great for emergency communications and baseball. There are a limited number of class A (clear channel) stations, and in the US, they typically broadcast at 50 kW day and night. Class D stations can operate on the same frequencies, but they're required to stop transmitting at night to avoid interference with the class A stations.

        The D layer of the ionosphere disappears at night, and the E layer weakens due to recombination of ions. The D layer absorbs radio signals in the LF, MF, and into the HF bands. This includes commercial AM radio. At night, AM radio signals don't get absorbed in the D layer and bounce off the F layer. They can also bounce off the surface and have multiple hops between the surface and ionosphere. This allows AM radio frequencies to cover wide areas at night. The class D stations may transmit with high power during the day, because the class A stations are mostly limited to line of sight propagation. A sufficiently distant class D station won't interfere during the day. At night, because AM radio can bounce off the ionosphere and isn't limited to line of sight, the class D stations could interfere, and stop transmitting.

        There are at most two or three class A stations on any particular frequency in the contiguous United States, because they can transmit over wide areas at night and disseminate emergency information. When other forms of transmitting information may be unavailable in an emergency, AM radio is still very useful.

        Then there's the part that Benjamin Sisko would like. Before the availability of streaming, AM radio was a great way for baseball teams to grow fan bases over large geographic areas by making the broadcasts available. For example, KMOX (1120 AM) is the flagship station for the St. Louis Cardinals. At night, KMOX can be picked up at least as far west as the Rockies, into the northern Plains, and into Texas. Before MLB teams relocated or expanded into the western US, the Cardinals were the farthest west team for quite awhile. Many people to the west became Cardinal fans from listening to Cardinals games on KMOX at night. Many other baseball teams also chose class A stations to carry their games for exactly the same reason. Even as recently as the mid-2000s, when the Cardinals temporarily moved their games off KMOX, there was a lot of backlash from fans in distant states. Without AM radio in the car, it will make it harder to listen to Cardinals games when I'm not in St. Louis. Perhaps it's not of as much interest to readers of this site, but Benjamin Sisko would definitely approve of this.

        --
        EXTERMINATE
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MIRV888 on Monday July 11, @06:51AM (6 children)

    by MIRV888 (11376) on Monday July 11, @06:51AM (#1259682)

    Have you ever dialed through the AM band while traveling in say Kentucky or Tennessee?
    It's being removed in order to deny inflammatory, misleading, and outright false information from being disseminated to the low end of the bell curve.
    Praise god and pass the ammo.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Rich on Monday July 11, @11:42AM

      by Rich (945) on Monday July 11, @11:42AM (#1259731) Journal

      YEAH! Rio Dio Radio, 100.000 watts of faith-healing power! All praise Eufaula Roop!

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @01:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @01:40PM (#1259771)

      North Carolina has the most Xtian radio out of all the States I've driven through without stopping.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by richtopia on Monday July 11, @02:34PM

      by richtopia (3160) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 11, @02:34PM (#1259787) Homepage Journal

      I thought AM radio was a safety requirement. Localized broadcasts for information is always in AM, I suspect most American drivers remember seeing a sign prompting them to tune their radios to 1310 or similar for road conditions.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @04:43PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @04:43PM (#1259823)

      No, it hasn't. There's not much point in removing stations completely, as most of them are now owned by a few corporations. A large part of why I stopped listening to radio is that the local content is mostly gone, even though I live in a major city and what does exist is of low quality compared with other methods of listening on the go. I bought a Bluetooth to aux converter and just listen to my own stuff coming in via my phone most of the time.

      The only thing worth listening to is the news, but with so few independent options for that, it might as well not exist.

    • (Score: 2) by sjames on Monday July 11, @07:18PM (1 child)

      by sjames (2882) on Monday July 11, @07:18PM (#1259866) Journal

      You forgot the really creepy ones calling for genocide in the name of our Lord (yes! REALLY!).

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by dltaylor on Monday July 11, @06:24PM

    by dltaylor (4693) on Monday July 11, @06:24PM (#1259848)

    Here in the USofA, there are signs along the highways that specify radio frequencies for road condition information. All of them are AM, with FM rarely added (never standalone). Between white-out snow, blackout rain, dust storms, floods, ... there is often a reason to check. Seems to me AM should be mandatory. Don't even begin to whine "but I have a cell phone". I've covered hundreds, by now maybe thousands, of miles on roads that have no cell service.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Monday July 11, @06:34PM (1 child)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Monday July 11, @06:34PM (#1259853) Journal

    Car audio has been pretty weird for quite a while now, and politics is why. Just try to find a car radio that can play Opus from a flash drive. Last time I went hunting for an aftermarket car radio, some years ago, I couldn't find such a thing, and, further, my inquiries about those capabilities got me a lot of askance. How can any audiophile not have heard of FLAC? Yet "FLAC? Opus? Never heard of it" is the attitude I got from the retailers and manufactures. No, you have to employ a personal device and connect it to an "audio in" jack -- if you can. I understand Apple is trying their utmost to sunset the analog audio connector? In the US, you will also have some difficulty finding a personal device that can handle Opus, thanks to Microsoft trying to kill off every other audio format that might compete with their proprietary WMA format. They would've done mp3 too, but it was too well known.

    One of he weirdest things is the clinging to the audio CD. Has to be publishers behind that one. I'm sure consumer electronics manufacturers also like the high maintenance aspect. The optical media player breaking down is, I suspect, a top reason to go out and buy a new radio.

    Another thing I found somewhat annoying was the hype about satellite radio. Bought a used car with this Sirius FM capable radio, and for the next year, I was receiving, in snail mail, come ons from them. Try it for one month for free! I am fairly sure the used car dealership passed on my info to them, for $, of course.

    • (Score: 2) by EvilSS on Monday July 11, @08:20PM

      by EvilSS (1456) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 11, @08:20PM (#1259900)

      Car audio has been pretty weird for quite a while now, and politics is why. Just try to find a car radio that can play Opus from a flash drive. Last time I went hunting for an aftermarket car radio, some years ago, I couldn't find such a thing, and, further, my inquiries about those capabilities got me a lot of askance. How can any audiophile not have heard of FLAC? Yet "FLAC? Opus? Never heard of it" is the attitude I got from the retailers and manufactures.

      Ford's Sync 4 will play FLAC, along with MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV. Not Opus though.

      No, you have to employ a personal device and connect it to an "audio in" jack -- if you can. I understand Apple is trying their utmost to sunset the analog audio connector?

      They are disappearing from automotive audio systems as well. With bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay, not enough people were still using them for them to keep them.

      One of he weirdest things is the clinging to the audio CD. Has to be publishers behind that one. I'm sure consumer electronics manufacturers also like the high maintenance aspect. The optical media player breaking down is, I suspect, a top reason to go out and buy a new radio.

      I was recently car shopping and nothing I looked at had a CD player in it from the factory. Granted I only shopped the US big 3 and Toyota. And I was looking at full size pickups which seem to be getting newer model entertainment systems over some other models from US manufacturers these days. Looks like most of the ones you can find in a 2022 are some imports and a few domestics that haven't been updated in a while.

      Another thing I found somewhat annoying was the hype about satellite radio. Bought a used car with this Sirius FM capable radio, and for the next year, I was receiving, in snail mail, come ons from them. Try it for one month for free! I am fairly sure the used car dealership passed on my info to them, for $, of course.

      Yea sat radio is just chock full of talk radio crap crammed with commercials. There are music channels without ads but why do I need those in 2022? It came with my last two vehicles (a 2008 and a 2022) and I never paid for it (or won't in the case of the 2022) after the trial, or really used it during. I can stream from my phone, carry days of downloaded music on my phone if I'm out of cell range, or stack up a USB thumb drive with enough music to last me for years. I just don't see the value in it. Maybe back in the mid-2000's sure, but today? Nope.

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