Former FEMA Heads Warn EV Manufacturers are Compromising Safety

Essay by Eric Worrall

AM radios are long range, resilient means for FEMA to communicate federal disaster alerts. But EV manufacturers are removing them, because EV motors generate radio noise which impedes reception.

Electric Car Manufacturers Remove AM Radios Claiming Safety Concerns


Some electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are scrapping the AM radio from their cars, claiming safety concerns. Although conservative talk radio dominates AM radio ratings, it is also considered a critical safety tool, as it is one of the primary ways that federal, state, and local officials communicate with the public during natural disasters and other emergencies.

Automakers such as Ford and Tesla have ditched the AM radio from their newer EV models, arguing that the motors on EVs interfere with AM frequencies, creating buzzing and signal fading, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

But former emergency officials are warning that scrapping the AM radio would mean EV drivers could miss important safety alerts.

Seven former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrators said in a Sunday letter — obtained by WSJ — to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and several congressional committees that the government should seek assurances that automakers will keep the AM radio in their vehicles.

FEMA says that more than 75 radio stations are equipped with backup communications and generators that allow them to continue broadcasting information to the public amid an emergency.

“Should this continue, it will represent a grave threat to future local, state, and federal disaster response and relief efforts,” the letter read.

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AM radios are a critical component of disaster response efforts, because they are long range, are good at penetrating geographical obstacles like mountain ranges, and unlike other technologies like FM and mobile cellular, AM isn’t limited by line of sight. So in the event of a disaster like a major earthquake or powerful tornado which wrecks local broadcast stations and mobile phone towers over a large geographical area, powerful emergency broadcasts from other states could still reach AM radio users in affected areas.

But AM signals are very sensitive to electrical noise.

What could EV manufacturers do to alleviate the problem? The obvious solution to radio noise, as any electronics hobbyist would know, is to add better more shielding and better electronic noise suppressors to EV engines and other electrically noisy components. But this would cost a few dollars, and might increase weight and reduce engine efficiency slightly.

There is another reason EV manufacturers should take electromagnetic radiation seriously. Some studies suggest continuous exposure to electromagnetic radiation can have serious health impacts. I doubt the bath of EMF radiation apparently permeating electric vehicles is sufficient to impact health, but given we are already exposed to EMF from devices like laptops and mobile phones, why take the risk of piling even more radiation into our lives?

via Watts Up With That?

March 14, 2023 at 04:56AM

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