Digital radio – the future? - Where are we now?

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  • French commit to 2013 date for cars
  • UK Government fully supportive, too
  • Some believe demand is not there
Where are we now?
If two of the biggest car makers - Ford and Renault - are anything to go by, the industry is some way off from getting a consensus on in-car DAB.

Ford is putting its weight firmly behind the format. From the Focus upwards, all high-spec Fords include DAB as standard and it is available as an option on the lower-spec trims. DAB will be available on the Fiesta soon.

'It's definitely something we are embracing,' said a Ford spokesperson.

Despite the 2013 deadline in France, Renault has adopted a more relaxed attitude to DAB. Currently, the system is available as an accessory on all Renaults, which means it's a dealer-fit option, not factory fit.

'It has low levels of consumer take-up,' said a Renault spokesman, 'and it looks unlikely that will change.'

Renault did reveal that its production lines have the capability to change to factory-fit digital radios should consumer demand require it.

But, with the UK Government firmly behind DAB, car makers now have a clear commitment about the format. The UK system is also compatible with systems being introduced on continental Europe, so there will be international conformity.

What Car? says
Car buyers want to hear traffic reports clearly and without interference no matter where they are in the country. They certainly won't want to pay an excessive premium for DAB and they won't want to shell out on a new car in the next few years, only to be told its radio will be obsolete shortly afterwards.

In short, car buyers need as clear a signal from Government and car makers about their intentions regarding DAB as they get from the radio itself.

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