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Study: Radio Remains Ubiquitous In New Cars As New Audio Options Proliferate.

What is the state of broadcast radio in U.S. vehicles today? According to Quu’s 2024 In-Vehicle Visuals Report released today, it’s pretty much ubiquitous. But radio no longer has a monopoly as the average number of audio sources in a vehicle has risen to 6.3, per the study. “The era of two knobs, six presets, and a CD player is in the rearview mirror,” says Fred Jacobs, who contributed analysis and commentary to the report.

Among the 100 best selling vehicles in 2023,100% are equipped with FM, and 98% have AM radio. In one of the study’s big surprises, 70% of new vehicles are equipped with HD Radio. Radio now shares the dashboard with SiriusXM, included in 92% of vehicles surveyed, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, found in 98% of vehicles. In other words, these dashboard apps are as ubiquitous as AM radio and almost as ubiquitous as FM.

"This report serves as a crucial yardstick for broadcast radio, helping us understand if we’re making headway in vehicles or not. As radio’s status evolves in future years, we will track it," said Steve Newberry, CEO of Quu.

In another finding, 20% of 2023’s top 100 bestselling vehicles have built-in streaming apps. And offering evidence of broadcaster efforts to be seen as well as heard in the connected car, 100% of the vehicles surveyed receive text displays for radio and 60% can receive image displays from radio, such as artist images and station logos. That number historically has been 20%, according to Newberry.

In more than one third of vehicles surveyed, broadcast radio isn’t buried in a touch screen – 36% of 2023’s bestselling vehicles have a radio button. “We're not lumped into media or audio, people can easily access radio,” Newberry tells Inside Radio.

“People who say AM/FM radios are disappearing from the car are greatly exaggerating the point,” Newberry says. “Despite all the noise, we still enjoy universal distribution. But it's no longer a monopoly. Sirius/XM, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are as accessible as AM/FM, making personalized content, music, podcasts, and audiobooks readily available. The dashboard is getting crowded and AM/FM stations need to drive home their value proposition.”

GM An Outlier To HD Radio Adoption

Audio streaming apps are becoming more prevalent across the auto industry and the study identifies two carmakers leading the charge. General Motors and Toyota were far more likely to have built-in streaming apps, per the survey. At the same time, GM was found to be the least accepting of HD Radio technology. While 70% of 2023’s top selling vehicles come HD Radio-equipped, GM vehicles are an outlier to the widespread adoption of HD Radio. GM accounted for 19% of the vehicles in the survey but only 3% of the HD Radio-equipped vehicles.

“General Motors has made a conscious decision to pass on that technology when they're doing streaming and other things,” Newberry says. “We can expect that OEMs will adopt their built in streaming apps more and more in the years to come.”

Data for Quu’s 2024 In-Vehicle Visuals Report was collected by an independent contractor tasked with auditing in-dash systems. Each dashboard was analyzed for audio entertainment features and visual components, including radio text, artist, and song information. Data was collected from new vehicles onsite at various auto dealerships between November 2023 and January 2024.

Quu retained broadcast radio researcher Doug Hyde to analyze the data, identify key findings and provide insights into their impact on the radio industry. “The data tells a story of radio's ubiquitous presence in the car, but also details the inclusion of other audio sources," said Hyde. “Each automaker takes a different approach to their entertainment system and radio now has the data to see trends and develop strategies.”

Quu will host a webinar to discuss the findings Wednesday, April 10, beginning at 3pm. The presentation will feature Jacobs Media’s Fred Jacobs and Paul Jacobs, Xperi’s Joe D’Angelo, consultant Mike McVay, and Newberry. Registration information can be viewed HERE.

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