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.

Read more:

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?

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March 14, 2023 2:40 am

Nice going, Elon! You buy Twitter and say you’re supporting “free speech”, but then you take away conservative talk radio from your customers. Nice “end run fake.” (News Flash: AM frequencies can be filtered electronically with capacitors. So, no excuse.)

Reply to  Nevada_Geo
March 14, 2023 3:51 am

Maybe somebody needs to look at the EMC tests they were supposed to have passed..

Reply to  Nevada_Geo
March 14, 2023 8:58 am

I’m curious as to how many people that drive an EV would or are actually listening to conservative talk radio. May be a none issue, but I don’t know.

March 14, 2023 3:28 am

I saw an EV waiting at a set of traffic lights this morning, and the driver had his foot on the brake… brake lights on. There are an awful lot of traffic lights in London.

Virtue signalling in an EV requires a somewhat different approach like using the hand brake instead etc. Those that try to go any real distance have the problem of finding a working charger, so EVs are very much an urban vehicle in the UK Not exactly remote.

Can one drive from, say, New York to Los Angeles in an EV? I wonder how long that might take?

Last edited 13 days ago by strativarius
D Boss
Reply to  strativarius
March 14, 2023 5:03 am

Most modern cars, whether EV or ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) do not have handbrakes anymore. The “parking” or “emergency” brakes on almost every newer car of either power plant use Electrically actuated Parking Brakes (EPB). A gear driven servo motor actuates the rear brake cylinders to clamp the pads on the rotors/discs.

So much for the redundancy of having a cable actuated lever or pedal for this function. (so now with EPB if you have some kind of electrical or computer failure, you cannot use the parking or emergency brake)

And this makes it a pain in the behind to change rear brake pads as you need a costly diagnostic scanner connected to the communications port of the car, and need to run specialized routine to place the electronic parking brakes in the “service” or retracted mode.

Furthermore, EV’s have regenerative braking, which entails that when you have your foot off of the accelerator, it goes into regen braking mode, which turns the drive motor(s) into generators causing drag – so there is no forward creep with foot off the pedals. It could still roll fore or aft on a slope without foot on the brake pedal though. Hydraulic brakes actuate with the brake pedal, after so much foot pressure is applied, thereby using regen braking for the lightest touch of the brake pedal. Oh and by the way the brake boost system is either vacuum or hydraulically operated in an EV so you must have either a vacuum pump or an hydraulic pump continuously operating as an accessory, draining the main batteries for “brake boost” and “power steering” functions.

EV’s as a concept are stupid, and have no real purpose or function, except for virtue signalling and it is not possible to make enough of them to run even a small country for all vehicles as this would exceed the worlds production of various elements needed to make them. To convert the world’s vehicles would be something like several orders of magnitude more Li, Co, Cu etc that are mined today. (not to mention that the power grids do not have the capacity to charge them all, or that the “emissions” of an EV when you account for the mining and production of them, only break even with ICE vehicles at 80,000 to 150,000 miles)

Last edited 13 days ago by D Boss
Reply to  D Boss
March 14, 2023 5:18 am

My car has a hand brake, indeed I’ve yet to see an ICE car that doesn’t have one.

Randle Dewees
Reply to  strativarius
March 14, 2023 6:13 am

My 2019 RAV4 doesn’t have a hand brake. Putting the transmission into Park activates the parking brake.

There are many things about the car I do not like, this brake feature is not on that list, so far.

Reply to  Randle Dewees
March 14, 2023 6:57 am

It’s an automatic?

Tim Gorman
Reply to  strativarius
March 14, 2023 6:16 am

A hand brake is almost a necessity on a vehicle with a manual transmission. There is nothing in a manual transmission like a parking pawl in an automatic transmission (which is activated when you put the shift linkage in “Park”).

On the 2021 Toyota Highlander I rented last year the electronic parking brake could be released by pushing on the brake pedal while operating the console-mounted electronic parking brake switch.

Lee Riffee
Reply to  strativarius
March 14, 2023 6:40 am

My 2011 Dodge Ram has a foot pedal brake on the far left side. You push that in to engage the brake and there is a release under the dash board.

More Soylent Green!
Reply to  strativarius
March 14, 2023 7:08 am

My car’s hand brake is a pedal

Reply to  strativarius
March 14, 2023 9:03 am

For an example:
Our 2016 Toyota Camry has a foot pedal / cable operated emergency brake

(2006-2011) Camry parking brake was a handle and cable,
(2011-2017) Camry parking brake was a foot pedal and cable.
(2018-2023) Camry parking brake is electronic, pressing a button to engage, with no cable.

Last edited 13 days ago by Richard Greene
Reply to  strativarius
March 14, 2023 9:37 am

2019 silverado 4dr does not have hand/foot park brake.

electric, press a button.

Reply to  strativarius
March 15, 2023 8:20 am

I recall the BMW Mini has an electric handbrake as a woman parked her car on a ramp leading into a river – the Thames I think – with her baby in the back. She got out for some reason, the electric brake failed, the car rolled into the river, and the baby drowned. Another of the many additions to cars that are solutions to non-existent problems. Any motorcyclists remember Honda’s inboard ventilated brake discs and their impact on taking wheels off?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  D Boss
March 14, 2023 11:32 am

I recently inadvertently left the driver’s side door open on my ICE Subaru Outback. By the time I discovered it, my battery was completely dead. I was disappointed that the system wasn’t smart enough to turn the door lights off after 20 minutes. I got a charger and attempted to recharge the battery; however, it was too far gone and wouldn’t take a charge. I went to a neighbor and asked him to bring his truck over to jump start my car. To my dismay, I discovered that I couldn’t move the CVT shift lever to neutral, or disengage the electric parking brake to get the car out of the garage! We just barely were able to reach the battery by putting his long battery cables in series with my short cables. I don’t consider that a good design for an AWD car that might be used off-road, far from a repair facility.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 14, 2023 2:39 pm

I keep a deep cycle marine battery out in a shed connected to a solar charger for just that reason. I can use it to run my amateur radio station if needed or I can pull a dead car battery and hook the car up to the marine battery to get going.

Michael S. Kelly
March 14, 2023 3:43 am

From 2008 to 2014, I lived in Maryland. The electric power grid “layout” resembled a Boston street map, i.e. like someone had taken a handful of cooked spaghetti noodles and thrown them at a map – though the power lines covered much more territory than the Boston streets. In fact, an acquaintance worked for the electric company, and explained to me at length how difficult it was to restore power after a big storm (especially a snowstorm), because they had no idea where most of the lines even were.

The aerial canopy of power lines had one very significant consequence: it was impossible to listen to AM radio, and it didn’t matter where you were. I don’t know how those stations survived. As a transplant from Southern California, I was used to listening to KFI AM 640, a clear channel station I could pick up anywhere, any time, and as far away as Kansas City whenever I drove to my parents’ home in St. Louis County.

That’s when I took to listening to iHeart Radio on my then brand new iPhone. In fact, for a time, I reverted to listening to KFI. These days, I listen to WMAL 105.9 FM in Washington DC – radio in the car. iPhone everywhere else.

There are alternatives, people. In fact, the iPhone will give you whatever emergency alerts you configure it to receive.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
March 14, 2023 4:03 am

“the iPhone will give you whatever emergency alerts you configure it to receive.”

I wanted them permanenly off my simplistic cheap flip phone from Consumer Cellular because they’re annoying. Called that company and was told how to turn them off except for the one from the President that can’t be turned off. Well, if there was an emergency so important that the President would send it out to everyone- I wouldn’t want to know about it.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 14, 2023 4:40 am

There are alternatives, people”

Leave it [the iPhone] at home. Tracking is something else to consider.

Last edited 13 days ago by strativarius
Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 14, 2023 4:49 am

There’s a new LEO satellite system named Lynk, whose CEO is an old friend of mine from the entrepreneurial space world, Charles Miller. They have demonstrated the ability to communicate with any cellular telephone via satellite. Cell tower availability (which is much more robust than you think) will no longer be a limitation. It’s truly revolutionary.

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
March 14, 2023 5:09 pm

I believe Starlink has that capability, but now that Musk bought Twitter the regulators have made his licensing of that service orders of magnitude harder.

Reply to  Drake
March 14, 2023 5:37 pm

I have Starlink. If it has that capability it isn’t something they’ve made me aware of.
Not saying it doesn’t, just that it doesn’t appear available here (NC).

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
March 14, 2023 6:45 am

Won’t work for me I don’t own a call phone and never will. Those phones turn people into zombies. I watched it happen to both friends and family. All people ever do now is look at their phone. When they end up somewhere without cell service they get very uneasy and spend all their time trying to find service. It is a drug. I am reminded of a ST TNG episode The Game where the whole crew gets brainwashed by a game.

Scarecrow Repair
Reply to  Matthew Bergin
March 14, 2023 8:47 am

Are you your own master? Can you control your urges? It’s just a device with a power switch. Turn it off if you don’t want to receive calls. Turn it on when you need it. Great way to carry books around to read when you are waiting in line. Great way to find an address on a street you don’t know. Great way to compare prices in stores. Great way to check weather radar when you are out all day. You can even use maps to find where traffic is heaviest.

It’s your phone, you control the vertical, the horizontal, the power.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Scarecrow Repair
March 14, 2023 1:58 pm

Outer Limits?

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Scarecrow Repair
March 14, 2023 3:45 pm

I have shut mine off so well it is still in the store. I don’t want one. I feel no need to be connected all the time. I was just making an observation of what I have seen.

Reply to  Matthew Bergin
March 14, 2023 9:05 am

I agree a smart phone is like a drug

Steve Keohane
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
March 14, 2023 8:33 am

If you live where there is cell phone reception…

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
March 14, 2023 11:37 am

The communication issues will be addressed after the more pressing issues of pronouns is resolved.

Leo Smith
March 14, 2023 3:46 am

Sorry, but having done RF design and used a car, this is really a non issue. No one uses AM any more, and if you want to listen to emergency AM broadcasts carry a portable AM radio and switch the car off.
Today’s motor controllers are brushless computerised units – no one uses carbon brushes any more. So there is no sparking, and screening is easily done and probably will be. By far the greatest interference in the long, medium and shortwave bands is ADSL broadband signals.
EV cars are pants, but not for this reason

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Leo Smith
March 14, 2023 4:53 am

If the motors don’t use brushes then they have to be fed an AC signal. Converting the DC from the battery to AC for the motors will cause electrical noise from the AC signal.

You simply can’t get around this. “computerised units” won’t help. Anytime you are passing an AC signal around in a vehicle you are generating noise in an AM radio.

Alternators in vehicles today *still* create the “whine” in an AM radio unless noise suppression techniques are used. These alternators are brushless just like the EV motors. The AC signal the alternators produce is rectified using diodes (or something similar) which are also spark-less. But the whine still exists.

Erik Magnuson
Reply to  Tim Gorman
March 14, 2023 7:23 am

Alternator whine is caused by the reverse recovery current pulse in the PN junction rectifiers. That can be significantly reduced by using Schottky diodes instead of PN junction diodes.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Erik Magnuson
March 14, 2023 7:42 am

Like I said, the ICE car manufacturers devised ways to minimize noise in AM radios a long time ago. The EV manufacturers need to do the same thing.

Reply to  Leo Smith
March 14, 2023 9:19 am

“No one listens uses AM any more”

Total BS

“According to the Pew Research Center, up to 83% of Americans who are 12 years old and above listen to terrestrial radio at least once a week.

Such radio listening statistics prove that radio remains relevant in today’s modern era.

If you are curious about how many people listen to the radio, let us look at the report from News Generation. According to the latter, over 244.5 million adults in America listen to the radio in a month”
Why Do People Still Listen to the Radio? Learn the Secrets! (

“More than 47 million Americans tune into nearly 4,500 local AM radio stations across the country. AM radio stations rank among the most-listened-to stations not just in small and rural markets but also in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Atlanta”
Preserving AM Radio in Cars Keeps Americans Safe – NAB Blog

Are you claiming no one listens to AM in a car any more?
If so, you have no idea what you are talking about and ought to have your brain checked for RF interference. Hopefully, they will find nothing.

Reply to  Leo Smith
March 14, 2023 1:08 pm

I guess that makes me a “No one” — I listen to AM radio every single day.

This noise from EVs is the same garbage that almost all homes are infected with today — switching noise. It is electric-field noise — high impedance and capacitively coupled to AM radio antennas. It doesn’t propagate like an electromagnetic wave does — it is what’s often called “near field”. Intensity falls off with the third (or higher) power of distance. You only need to get a few tens of feet away from the source to greatly attenuate the effect.

The FAA has allowed the emission limits for this kind of noise to get way too high in my opinion, and it makes AM radio reception at lower frequencies very problematic in typical homes and commercial buildings.

I do not think that limiting and shielding electric field noise generated by EVs to a level where it won’t interfere with AM radio reception will not be easy and could be fairly costly. If it was easy, the EV mfrs would have done it.

Regarding effects on our health — it’s much less likely to be an issue, because there’s no real power in these emissions. But that doesn’t mean that just the electric field could cause problems — this isn’t my area of knowledge, but I just think it’s less likely that concerns about cell phone radiation for example — there’s real power in that.

Reply to  wxobserver
March 14, 2023 1:09 pm

That should be FCC — not FAA

March 14, 2023 4:22 am

I spend 3 1/2 hours in the car on a work day and I listen to AM through my phone.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 14, 2023 5:09 am

Yes and no maybe
Many phones have an AM receiver built in and use the lead to your earbuds/headphones as the receiving antenna.
The phone could even be in Airplane mode and not connected to any network

Reply to  Tony
March 14, 2023 9:24 am

While AM id not high fidelity, it would sound better through the car audio system.
This audiophile finds smart phone sound quality o be awful — intolerable noise

Driving with ear buds or headphones would improve the sound quality at the expense of possibly not hearing horns and sirens. Studies have shown that using earbuds or driving headphones while driving can be as dangerous as texting. If a driver is wearing earbuds, wearing headphones, or using his smart phone while driving, I will not be a passenger. No exceptions.

Reply to  Richard Greene
March 14, 2023 6:51 pm

But shortly, cars will be self-driving. Then no problem.

Tom Abbott
March 14, 2023 4:33 am

I won’t be driving an electric car, so I’m good.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 14, 2023 5:11 am

but everyone else will.
or so ‘some’ people imagine anyway

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 14, 2023 7:08 am

I have serious doubts about that.😉

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 14, 2023 11:43 am

If that should come to pass, what will happen to people with AM radios in their homes?

March 14, 2023 4:40 am

“I saw an EV waiting at a set of traffic lights this morning, and the driver had his foot on the brake… brake lights on.”

So do all automatic gearbox cars.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Mariner
March 14, 2023 5:14 am

But very few cars in the UK are automatic – not least as they have/had a reputation for being thirsty

Question is then, do EVs ‘creep’ when you’re supposedly stopped or wanting to be, in the same way automatics do or did (in my limited experience)

Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 14, 2023 5:21 am

They [automatics] do creep forward, at least the last one I drove did.

Last edited 13 days ago by strativarius
Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 14, 2023 10:31 am

My 16 y o diesel Mercedes is automatic, does 55 mpg, and creeps in “drive” if you don’t have your foot on the brake pedal.

Reply to  Mariner
March 14, 2023 5:20 am

If it’s an EV, it’s draining the battery. I thought that somewhat obvious.

An ICE car has an alternator, right?

Tim Gorman
March 14, 2023 4:47 am

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”

Your comments on this are right on the nose! Alternator whine and spark plugs in an ICE vehicle (do EV’s have an alternator?) used to wreak havoc with AM radio. The car manufacturers found ways around this. Noise suppression for the alternator whine and the spark plug wires and spark plugs.

There is no reason why car manufacturers can’t do the same thing for EV’s.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Tim Gorman
March 14, 2023 5:37 am

Because the noise suppression for spark plugs meant using ignition leads made of string impregnated with graphite.
They thus had very high electrical resistance.
When a ‘spark’ came from the ignition unit/distributor, the plug acted like a capacitor and the lead as a resistor, forming a low pass filter.
This low pass filter took the very sharp leading edge off the signal from the ignition unit – the plug saw what looked like half a sine-wave instead of a square-wave.
And as everyone knows, square waves comprise/contain all the odd harmonics of the original signal
Thus in a 4 cylinder engine and with systems now firing 2 plugs at once and running at 3,000rpm, each plug is seeing a 3kHz square wave coming at it.,
That square wave is radiating from the leads at 3kHz, 9kHz, 15kHz, 21kHz, 27kHz etc etc (Keep multiplying 3,000 by 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 for ever more)

With modern CDI ignitions, those 3kHz square waves have *very* sharp leading edges and those harmonics extend way way up into the AM radio frequency band and well beyond

It is becasue of the way graphite leads are made and work and wear out is why it is absolutely recommended that, for an engine with a CDI ignition, new leads are fitted whenever the plugs are changed
Else the new plugs and old worn-out leads will cheerfully destroy the ignition coil.
Not as though there’s any great amount of energy flowing, it’s that because of the insanely sharp leading edge coming from CDI systems, the instantaneous power is ‘off the scale’

Unfortunately, an electric car is NOT going to operate when all its cabling/wiring is done with high-resistance graphite-impregnated string

Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 14, 2023 5:55 am

Don’t you just yearn for something like an old 2CV? Where with a screwdriver and some spanners etc you stood a chance of getting it going. You could even bum-start it

Tim Gorman
Reply to  strativarius
March 14, 2023 6:21 am

I wonder how many people reading WUWT actually know what “bum-starting” is?

Reply to  Tim Gorman
March 14, 2023 6:32 am

I hope a few do

Reply to  Tim Gorman
March 14, 2023 9:37 am

I don’t
I barely remembered what a 2CV Citroen was.
A real dorkmobile.

We had push starts when I was a teenager and some friends had manual transmission “junkers’ with bad batteries:

Push Start Your Manual Transmission Vehicle
— Put it in second gear, then have two or three strong friends push your vehicle. The idea is to get the car rolling at a fairly good clip, then release the clutch while still turning the key. Do it right and your car should start, despite your faulty starter motor or battery.

Reply to  Richard Greene
March 14, 2023 12:31 pm

What’s fun is doing a push start, when you are all by yourself.
Get the car rolling, then try to jump into the driver’s seat before the car can slow down too much.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Richard Greene
March 14, 2023 2:03 pm

I just assumed he was actually talking about bump starts. Although I have had to ask some “bums” at the local tavern (in my younger days of course) to help me push my car to get it started.

Reply to  Richard Greene
March 14, 2023 5:21 pm

The key just needs to be ON, not turned to the start position.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  strativarius
March 14, 2023 8:42 am

My better half had a green 2CV when I met her. We used it for many years travelling to Kent and the Wirral to respective parents. Wouldn’t have liked to have been in an accident in it though!

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 14, 2023 6:23 am

The answer is to put all the inverters and PWM controllers inside the electric motor housing and use the housing as a shield? Then the only wiring transiting the car is for DC?

I suspect the answer as to why this isn’t done is the cost of doing so.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
March 14, 2023 12:33 pm

The problem with trying to use the motor shell as EM shielding is trying to cool the motor. Moving all of the electronics inside the shell will just make that problem worse.

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Tim Gorman
March 14, 2023 7:04 am

A lot of the noise on a car AM radio is generated by the front wheels. When the wheels rotate they generate static electricity and consequently the static charge jumps wheel hub to the spindle across the non-conductive grease producing static noise. Back in the heyday of AM the high end cars came with a rotating electrical contact between the spindle and the hub under the bearing cap to dissipate the charge and eliminate that source of noise. Just one of the advantages of buying a Caddy or Lincoln😉

Reply to  Tim Gorman
March 14, 2023 9:28 am

But Tesla owners think AM radio is old fashioned and not cool.
Same with compact discs. They want to appear cool.
After all, they are virtue signaling by buying a Tesla EV,
not getting the best car for their money.

Reply to  Richard Greene
March 14, 2023 5:42 pm

Are they the ones that made vinyl outsell CDs last year?

I still have my old Dual turntable, Marantz amp and speakers, 2500 miles away at my Moms. I wonder if they are worth anything now. I bought them in 1974. My brother used them until his passing less than 5 years ago.

George B
March 14, 2023 5:13 am

Some of this article reminds me of electromotive force,EMF, associated with high voltage transmission lines.
I believe there were protests about this in the 1970s and 80s. People would put on a damp cotton garment and stand under power lines with a fluorescent tube in each hand. The tubes would light up illustrating the dangers of been too near power transmission lines for a long time.
Yes, we had noise issues with auto AM radios back then. We generally made sure the antenna and wiring was secure and would add a noise filter if required.

Tesla can try this site for more details.

Reply to  George B
March 14, 2023 5:53 pm

Working street lights and traffic signals as an apprentice electrician, we were pulling conductors up to a light head off of 5000 foot rolls of THW insulated #10 copper. The specs required the conductors to feed continuous back to the panel/controller so the conductors were still attached.

When I went to strip the conductors, not easy with THW, I got zapped not unlike a spark plug wire. I and the rolls were under high tension transmission lines. I stripped and terminated the conductors on the light fixture with much more care after the bite. BTW: I was not grounded, the current was from induced capacitance.. 5000 feet of copper gives and takes a lot of electrons from a body.

D Boss
March 14, 2023 5:25 am

Ah yes, the old “unintended consequences” scenario rears it’s ugly head! EV’s need to use 3 phase, AC motors for the best efficiency. This means they need 3 phase inverters to convert the DC from batteries into the AC needed for the drive motors. This “switching” of the DC, typically at from 20kHz to 40 kHz causes RF noise. Though that can be filtered pretty well. However the motor controllers can either chop the AC in a Pulse Width Modulation, or vary the frequency to obtain speed control. Either method also creates massive RF interference. And the currents are so high it is impractical to really filter them well. (inside a switching inverter you can contain the RF and effectively filter it, but the drive motor controllers then have 000 gauge cables running from the controllers to the motors, and these become antennae for the interference, so filtering is problematic)

Hence AM radio noise. (and not really healthy exposures to the occupants of the vehicles either) (and lethal voltages are carried in those orange cables under the bonnet/hood)

Tim Gorman
Reply to  D Boss
March 14, 2023 6:19 am

Why not put the inverters inside the motors? That’s how alternators limited generated noise. Put the rectifiers close to the AC leads to minimize the length of the “antenna” and use the alternator housing for noise suppression.

Tom Johnson
March 14, 2023 5:42 am

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?”

Huh? People have been exposed to EMF from AM radios for a century already, with no known serious effects. Laptops and cell phones have been around for far less. Why not shield the latter, rather than destroy the former? I’ll take the known safe before the unknown, which is a different frequency, and is likely higher exposure due to its physical closeness.

Paul B
March 14, 2023 6:02 am

The larger issue is the audio quality of the broadcasts. It sounds like it is originating from tin cans connected by string. Same goes for NOAA weather.

We are governed by idiots; all the way down.

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Paul B
March 14, 2023 7:19 am

The AM stations are limited to a bandwidth of only 30 KHz this does not leave much room for audio signal so they limit the frequency range which limits the audio quality.

Reply to  Matthew Bergin
March 14, 2023 9:47 am

AM sound quality is okay for talk radio.
AM has a much longer signal range than FM, useful when traveling by car. And not so bad for loud rock music in a car with the windows are open.

I’ve been an audiophile since 1965, so do not tolerate AM radio sound quality except for AM talk radio. If there is a “sister” FM station with the same talk radio show also on AM. I listen to it on FM. But voice sound quality is not that much different on FM and AM radio.

Some AM voices sound better because many FM stations use excessive bass boost equalization. I have a separate audio system as home for FM radio because it does not sound right with my much more expensive audio system with two subwoofers. That excessive bass frequency boost again. i believe that bass equalization is done to compensate for low frequency road noise in a car.

Last edited 13 days ago by Richard Greene
Reply to  Richard Greene
March 14, 2023 12:36 pm

Most car speakers are relatively small compared to what you would find in a home installation.
I don’t know why they would do the bass boost on the transmitter side, rather than the receiver side.

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Richard Greene
March 14, 2023 3:54 pm

Talk radio sounds good because the limited frequency is centered on the range of the human voice. I think the lower cutoff is 100 hertz and the upper 12 KHz but I’m not sure, it has been a while.🤷‍♀️

John Oliver
March 14, 2023 6:18 am

It really is not that big a deal either way. But I shall always have a AM portable radio tucked away in my survival kit in case the unthinkable happens including a war event that disables most of modern tech including satellites.

More Soylent Green!
March 14, 2023 7:05 am

“AM radio?” Is that a thing?

I wonder if FEMA shouldn’t update. Then again, AM radio is cheap, simple, reliable. Then again, are AM radios really present in most households any more?

At the very least this should be a reminder to WUWT readers to have a home emergency kit that includes a portable radio with AM. Preferably a wind-up unit that doesn’t require batteries.

Last edited 13 days ago by More Soylent Green!
Reply to  More Soylent Green!
March 14, 2023 8:49 am

They use AM radio because it works when other technologies have stopped working.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  MarkW
March 14, 2023 2:05 pm

I am reminded of the crystal radio I had 60 years ago! Didn’t need electricity!

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Tim Gorman
March 14, 2023 4:00 pm

I had one of those I built it from plans in a book called the Boy Engineer. I also built the single tube amplifier so I didn’t need the headphones. I don’t think my mother knew anything about voltage or I at only 7 years old would not have gotten the 1.5 volt A and 90 volt B battery.

March 14, 2023 8:16 am

If electric motors are creating that much electrical noise, they need to be quieted. Interfering with AM communications is just one of the reasons why.

Gary Pearse
March 14, 2023 10:20 am

Everyone has a cell phone. Use an alert like the one for kidnapped children.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
March 14, 2023 10:37 am

That only works if you are in line of sight of a transmitter and the transmitter has power.
And anyway I don’t have a cell phone.

Last edited 13 days ago by Oldseadog
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Gary Pearse
March 14, 2023 11:52 am

I do own a cell phone. However, I keep it turned off and in the glove compartment of my car, for emergency use only.

March 14, 2023 12:42 pm

There is a very simple solution, quit making electric vehicles.

Gunga Din
March 14, 2023 1:34 pm

Sounds like a case of “unintended consequences”.
But this time they’ve been warned.

Pat from Kerbob
March 14, 2023 10:16 pm

As per the Apple TV series Invasion, in a disaster the Ev drivers will just steal the first ICE vehicle they can to keep going

Problem solved

Mark Whitney
March 15, 2023 12:03 pm

No kidding. Every time I pass a “clean” bus the interference is nothing short of torture. People better hope that strong electric fields are not a health hazard as some claim.

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