Owners of Tesla vehicles made prior to 2018 with auto-driving capabilities can upgrade their infotainment system, for a cost of $2,500, which enables video streaming capabilities from Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Twitch, but removes AM/FM broadcast radio and SiriusXM satellite radio.
The option to upgrade is via invite-only for owners of Tesla vehicles with Autopilot Computer 2.5 and those running Autopilot Computer 2.0, Radio World reports.
“While Tesla’s decision only impacts older Tesla’s, it nevertheless highlights the strangely tortured relationship between the broadcast radio industry and Silicon Valley,” Strategy Analytics Global Automotive Associate Director Roger Lanctot wrote on LinkedIn. “The issue is a common thread traceable to Apple’s refusal to activate the FM chips built into its phones – and Google’s decision to ignore ‘terrestrial’ radio as part of either Android Auto or Google Automotive Services.”
Tesla was singing a different song just two years ago when their Software Version 9 for Model S, Model X and Model 3 vehicles placed a radio app front and center on the infotainment dashboard, an upgrade from the previous software that clumped radio with other options across a bar at the top of the screen.
Lanctot says Tesla, Apple and Google “have all turned their backs on the broadcast radio industry in spite of the wide reach of radio – a reach that exceeds that of television – and the fact that it is free, localized content ideally suited to consumption in a mobile environment.” He adds that the optional upgrade will only affect a small percentage of Tesla owners, “but it has the ominous tinge of something more sinister” and “points to a streaming-only approach to content delivery.”
He concludes the article saying, “I’m not going to cry wolf. And I’m not going to play Chicken Little. I will say that the radio industry offers contextually relevant and reliable content delivery with a broad reach across a wide range of devices and listening environments. Deleting radio from cars – terrestrial or satellite-based – tears at the fabric of our social connectedness.”