Carmaker DAB shun could soon mean in-car silence

DAB car radio
Above: Ford's ICE systems showcase their status as industry leaders in providing DAB radios

A survey has found that 50 percent of carmakers don't offer DAB digital radios for their cars, while 60 percent of new cars registered this year came with no option for digital tunes.

The survey of 24 car manufacturers, commissioned by Auto Express, shows concern that many drivers will be left travelling in silence (or at least with a Michael Bublé CD on repeat).

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has named 2015 as the date when the switch is flipped and the trusty old FM transmitters are turned off. However, as a result of the Auto Express survey, and because of slow take up, the date may be shifted to 2017. By this point more manufacturers may have raised their game and joined the 21st century.

Hyundai, Fiat, Nissan and Citroen don't offer a DAB option in their cars at all. Citroen's spokesperson commented: "No Citroens have digital radio fitted (or as an option) and no date has been set as to when this will change." Essentially: 'If you want to listen to BBC 1XTRA on the move, don't by a DS4'.

Moving over to DAB exclusively requires a few targets to be met. Nearly 50 percent of all listening must be digital; national DAB coverage must match FM reach (currently 98 percent); and digital radio has to reach 90 percent of the population and major roads.

But currently only 18 percent of listening is digital, many complain of poor coverage and only 85 percent of the population can get DAB transmissions.

Audi currently offers DAB as an option on its cars, but not as standard. A spokesperson said: "We can't currently see DAB being offered as standard as the demand doesn't justify the extra expense."

As a result of the slow take up, poor coverage and pretty catastrophic lack of support, it's rather likely that the switchover will take a while longer to happen.

Our advice? Don't change your car, but go to Halfords and get a new head unit...
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