All car radios to come with digital as standard

All radios fitted in new passenger cars will come with digital radio as standard from 2021 following new regulations [1] passed through Parliament. The regulations were approved by Parliament to support the mandating of digital for radios in passenger vehicles in the UK following a consultation by the Department for Transport.

The Road Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 2020 will come into force on 1st September 2020 and include provisions to implement Article 113 of the European Electronic Communications Code, which covers the compulsory fitment of digital radio in passenger cars and buses that come fitted with a radio. The regulation specifies the fitment of digital terrestrial radio broadcasting, rather than IP, and allows automotive manufacturers until 21 December 2020 to meet the requirement.

The regulation does not apply to commercial vehicles, which represent 5 million vehicles on the road in the UK. As of Q2 2020, 79% of commercial vehicles were fitted with DAB digital radio as standard, an increase from 62.8% in Q2 2019.

The Department for Transport’s new regulations, alongside the collaboration over recent years across industry, the DCMS, and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) which has seen the percentage of new cars fitted with digital radio as standard increase to 93.9% in Q2 2020, will guarantee more drivers can enjoy the benefits of digital radio on the road.

Mike Hawes, CEO, SMMT, said: “Vehicle manufacturers have rapidly increased the provision of DAB radio in new cars in the UK from only 5% standard fitment 10 years ago to nearly 95% today. UK drivers are able to enjoy the wide range of stations available on digital radio and the automotive sector will continue to respond to future consumer demands as in-car listening habits and technologies develop.”

Ford Ennals, CEO, Digital Radio UK, said: “We welcome the Government mandate for digital radio to be fitted in all new cars sold in the UK from the end of 2020. It’s a significant milestone in UK radio’s transition to digital and will ensure that drivers will be able to receive the full range of brilliant digital stations available in their cars. It also reinforces the position of DAB as the primary radio broadcast technology alongside FM and wouldn’t have been possible without the massive support of the SMMT and the automotive manufacturers who have already increased DAB fitment to nearly 95%.”

Matthew Evans, Director of Markets, techUK, said: “The tech sector sees this as a big step towards realising a digital first future for radio and broadcasters, tech firms and the auto industry stand ready to deliver even more digital capability as the new rules bed in.

[1] The Road Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 2020