Audi disagrees with radio broadcasters in Europe that FM, digital and internet audio services need to be offered side by side in future cars because the move would hamper automakers' efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.
"Let’s focus on two instead of three," said Holger Hees, Audi's head of development for broadcast radio, TV and optical media drivers. The options Hees supports are digital and internet, he told the WorldDAB Automotive 2016 conference in Brussels on Wednesday.
Hees explained why he would like to have two options instead of three: It is because shielding multiple communications services offered in the car adds complexity, cost and weight. Shielding is needed to ensure the different services come into the vehicle without interruption.
Automakers are trying to cut costs and weight in Europe, where margins remain tight despite rising demand and where vehicle manufacturers are fighting to cut every gram of weight possible to meet tougher CO2 emissions rules that take full effect in 2021.
Helen Boaden, who is director of BBC radio as well as president of the European Digital Radio Alliance, said broadcasters prefer having the trio of services available: FM, digital and internet. "We need a hybrid approach," she told the conference.
Digital radio is often referred to by the acronym DAB, which is short for digital audio broadcasting, a service that 56 percent of European citizens are now able to receive. The seven countries leading the way when it comes to DAB coverage are Germany, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark.
Most automakers have the technology to put DAB into new cars, said Ronny van Gerwen, who is country manager for Belgium at market researcher JATO. However, most offer the service as an option. Van Gerwen expects that to change as digital radio gains acceptance.
A future without FM is already starting to take shape in Europe. The first country that will switch to DAB is Norway, where FM will be phased out for most of the country by December 2017.