Is DAB the new FM?

November 03, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Are the times gone when AM and FM radio receivers dominated the center stack in the cars? The latest figures from the WorldDAB industry forum show that even if DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) receivers might not yet in the majority, they certainly will be soon: Across eight major European markets surveyed by WorldDAB, 31 % of the new cars are now sold with DAB as standard.

The highest popularity for DAB has been observed in the UK, Norway and Switzerland. In the UK, 86% of the new cars delivered in September were equipped with DAB as standard – a huge leap forward, because in 2013, only 35% of the cars had this feature. In Norway, 78% of the vehicles had DAB receivers, which certainly has to do with the fact that Norway plans to switch off FM transmissions as early as January 2017. Switzerland plans the digital switchover sometimes between 2020 and 2024, but already now 65% of the new cars are equipped accordingly.

But DAB is also picking up in other regions too. With reference to market researcher JATO, WorldDAB reports that the growth in the Netherlands and Denmark is rising. In the Netherlands, 23% of all new cards hat DAB reception as standard in the first half of 2016, up from 16% a year earlier. In Denmark, a tax rule was lifted that qualified digital audio broadcast as a luxury good. After the rule was removed, the proportion of cars fitted with DAB more than doubled to 11%, up from 5% a year earlier.

In Germany, DAB is available in 80% of new cars, albeit mostly as an option. The JATO statistics does not state the percentage of DAB receivers as standard. In Italy and France, these figures are 54% and 33%, respectively.

In these eight countries, the top automotive brands for DAB are Ford, Volkswagen, Renault, Opel / Vauxhall and BMW (ranked by volumes sold).

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