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Manufacturers steer clear of digital radioBack

The Government’s switchover date for digital radio (DAB) may need to change as a recent survey of car manufacturers reveals that more than 50 per cent are avoiding installing the new technology.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport intends all new cars to have DAB radio fitted as standard by 2013, with a view to all used cars being converted by 2015, but with the current slow uptake on the new radios being installed in cars, it is predicted that the switch over could be delayed until 2017.

At the moment, only one per cent of UK cars receive DAB radio, but the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has stated that the simplicity of adding DAB to a new vehicle means that the 2013 target could be achieved.

The main advantage of DAB is that it gives you a crystal clear reception, eliminating the crackle you get on FM and more noticeably AM wavebands so that you can listen to popular programs such as BBC Radio 5 Live and talkSPORT with no interference.

However, a recent survey by Auto Express has revealed that 50 per cent of car manufacturers are not currently offering digital radio units within their model range, with almost 60 per cent of all new vehicles registered this year coming without the option of digital radio.

Citroen, Nissan, Fiat and Hyundai are among some of the car makers that have decided to avoid installing the new technology. A Citroen spokesman said: “No Citroens have digital radio fitted (or as an option) and no date has been set as to when this will change.”

In order for the Government switchover to be successful, it relies on a number of key targets being met, in particular that 50 per cent of all radio listening must be on digital platforms with national digital radio matching FM coverage (currently 98 per cent), and local digital radio reaching 90 per cent of the population and all major roads.

At present, digital radio can be received in over 85 per cent of the United Kingdom. To find out whether DAB is present in your area, there are a variety of websites which enable you to enter your postcode to find out such as www.ukdigitalradio.com or www.uk-dab.info.

An Audi spokeswoman said: “We’ve had negative feedback from customers about poor digital radio coverage. If the broadcasters get the transmitter infrastructure right, then it would be a totally different ball game. We can’t currently see DAB being offered as standard as the demand doesn’t justify the extra expense.”

If you’re purchasing a new car, the manufacturers who already offer DAB as standard or as an option include Audi, BMW, Fiat, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Lotus, Mercedes, Mini, Renault, Seat, Toyota, TVR Vauxhall, Volkswagen and Volvo.

Posted by Leana Kell on 02/11/2011