Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: September 14, 2011

HD Radio is finally becoming a standard feature in many new cars and Ford is one of the auto producers leading the way, but the battle for in-car listening will get very competitive with new technology.  In an open letter to broadcasters, Ford Motors Director of Global Electrical and Electronics Systems Engineering Jim Buczkowski says competition is driving radio to go digital, making HD Radio the next logical step for automakers to embrace. Buczkowski writes, “virtually all car makers have embraced the integrated digital media platform. AM/FM now competes with crystal clear music and talk radio sources in the car like Pandora, Spotify, Music Unlimited, Slacker, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and other audio streams. But it’s not just the experience created by great sound and reception. Consumers have come to expect the same consistent ‘look and feel’ from their in-car media experience as they experience with their iPods, smartphones, Internet radio and other digital technology. HD Radio technology can provide this look and feel as well but analog radio cannot.”

Stressing competition, Buczkowski continues, “Why do I have to listen to a scratchy sound? Why can’t I see the meta data that I can see other places? I think it’s going to be a really competitive environment for the AM/FM broadcasters. We would like to see them continue to create great experiences that would match what customers can see from other sources.” Buczkowski concludes, “At Ford, we’ve also learned that our customers love SYNC because there is no additional monthly subscription fee, unlike some of our competitors. The advantage that AM/FM broadcasters have is that they are also delivering a great “free” service, but the opportunity is there to enhance it even further by going digital.”