4 Sept 2013

An open letter to all car manufacturers about digital radio

Dear all car manufacturers

I've driven cars produced by most of you this year.  Most lived up to expectations, many were brilliant, some were a bit disappointing.

Only slightly more than 50% of the cars I tested came with DAB digital radio as standard.  This is unacceptable.  All new cars for sale in the UK and Europe should come with DAB as standard.

Even some high-end luxury and sports cars came with only FM radios.  This means I have to listen to Radio 1 or 2, or a local radio station (shudder).

I don't like classical music, pop music, 80s music, One Direction, political chat, womans hour, rap music or the shipping forecast.  Chris Evans is bearable but has to play the R2 playlist which is dire, Ken Bruce is unbearable, Jeremy Vine is OK but Vanessa Feltz is the radio equivalent of nails on a chalk-board.

All Radio 1 presenters are more irritating than a tickly cough and after 7pm Radio 2 shuts down and turns into music for people who don't like music.

I want choice.  My choice.  Not the limited choice offered by FM or the unlistenable AM.  I want digital radio in my £20,000 or £80,000 car.  Even my own £1,300 Porsche has a £100 digital radio that works perfectly, even if the speakers make it sound like the music is channeled via paper bags.  (NB you can buy aftermarket DAB systems that integrate into existing stereos, like this one from AutoDAB*)

DAB is cheap to install.  It is easy to integrate into any sound system.  Not having it is not good enough.  I've driven thousands of miles with digital radio and it only seems not to work on the A34 near Oxford.

Consumers want choice.  I want Planet Rock.  Other people may want Absolute Radio.  Some daft people may even want KISS.  In 2013 nobody wants to be limited to analogue radio stations.

Not installing digital radio in all your new cars is unacceptable.  Please think about and rectify the situation.

Oh, and whilst you're at it please make it so you can play music from your smartphone by Bluetooth like Volvo does in the V40.  Being able to make calls by Bluetooth but having to plug the phone into the car to play your own music is just silly.


Matt (Speedmonkey)

*No, they didn't pay me to say that