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Think Younger Consumers Don’t Want In-Vehicle AM Radio? Think Again.

The automobile is more than just a means of transportation in 21st century America. It’s a lifestyle choice, a form of expression, a place of refuge.

It’s also a place where consumers, particularly younger demographics, have specific ideas about what they want inside the dashboard.

That’s according to Jeff Jury, Senior VP and General Manager of Connected Car at Xperi, who says in a new op-ed for Automotive News that automakers must take note of what consumers want inside their vehicle cabin, and how those desires ultimately affect purchase decisions. Those priorities, as it turns out, include AM radio.

Jury cites a survey of car owners and lessees conducted by Censuswide in late 2023.

“… [W]hile consumers want deeply progressive entertainment platforms, they continue to want radio as an anchor: 60 percent of respondents overall agreed that AM radio, which offers emergency/weather disaster updates, local content, community news, sports, and live, real-time traffic reports, is an indispensable part of their vehicle’s dashboard — and it is more important to those 17-44, versus than to those 45 and over.”

A broad range of content — including local radio, streaming, podcasts and audio books — are important to the majority, Jury observes, adding that enhancing the experience with visual and textual information, as well as being able to listen to a specific radio station digitally when the vehicle is no longer in broadcast range, are also key.

In short, consumers are seeking a full-fledged in-vehicle entertainment experience, not simply a dashboard offering an experience that mirrors that of their smartphone.

“That experience needs to come from a vehicle that knows its owner, one that offers entertainment that automatically personalizes to the owner’s particular tastes/interests,” Jury writes. “It should offer the highest quality audio, make all content easily discoverable, adjust the in-cabin environment (seat position, temperature, etc.) to their preferences, incorporate safety technology that sends alerts and constantly updates to meet digital advances and evolving needs. This is particularly true of people ages 25-44, two-thirds of whom agree with this vision of the dashboard.”

Jury says the continued evolution of the automobile as “a welcome and liberating third space of refuge” (home and the office being the other two) demands that today’s dashboard delivers “truly extraordinary experiences that automakers are not only able to control, but also to brand and leverage to increase customer loyalty and deepen those relationships.”

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