BMW's i3 Doesn't Have AM Radio Because of Electric Motor Interference

BMW i3 infotainment 1 photo
Photo: Catalin Garmacea
When the first BMW i3 deliveries started taking place, a couple of owners began reporting that the car's radio doesn't offer AM support. In short, they couldn't listen to radio stations that are still using AM bandwidths. The issue has been known for a while but so far, nobody offered a clear answer as to why it is there in the first place.
The guys from Green Car Reports finally decided to ask BMW directly and, to their surprise, they actually got an answer. According to the German company, it was the lack of fidelity that made them go down this path:

“AM is not offered due to negative performance influences of the electromagnetic interference of the electric drivetrain. Electric motors cause interference on AM, which is why BMW decided to remove this option. While it could be offered, BMW’s performance standards are very high and we don’t offer a product that meets less than those high standards,” said Rebecca K. Kiehne, a BMW product and technical communications spokesperson.

So there you have it, the AM module could've been integrated but since the interference from the electric motors could've led to poor reception, BMW decided to drop it altogether to avoid complaints.

However, according to BMW spokesman, Dave Buchko, the issue is not as significant as it may seem. HD Radio is standard on all i3s and many traditional AM stations in various countries are available on secondary and tertiary HD signals so you can still enjoy them.

Some people that were probably extreme fans of AM radio even tinkered with the car's software and found an option to activate it. We're pretty sure that's not recommended and that even if they did, the reception is probably not all that great in the first place.
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