Audi switches to digital radio

18 March 2013 #SMMT News

At the Radiodays Conference in Berlin today, Digital Radio UK and Audi announced that new Audi models in the UK will have digital radio fitted as standard from April 2013.

Audi models ordered in April 2013 will have DAB digital radios fitted as standard (excepting initially the R8 and TT models). This summer, Audi will introduce a range of digital radio adapters to enable motorists to retro-fit all existing Audi models with an Audi fully integrated digital radio.

There has been significant progress for digital radio in-car in the UK with one third (33.3%) of all new cars sold in Q4 2012 having digital radio as standard, according to CAP and SMMT, compared with 20.8% in Q4 2011 and just 7.5% in Q4 2010. Audi’s announcement is further evidence of the transformational shift towards digital radio by the vehicle industry and reflects the impact of the commitments made by the major manufacturers.

Ford, VW and Vauxhall have all recently announced their intent to introduce digital radio as standard in their new models and CAP and SMMT data for January 2013 shows that BMW, MINI, Land Rover and Jaguar are already fitting digital radio as standard into all new models.

In parallel with the move to fitting digital radio as standard in new cars comes an industry drive to offer aftermarket solutions to motorists to enable them to convert their existing analogue car radio to digital. Digital radio adapters and digital radio head units are now sold in over 2,500 dealer showrooms in the UK as well as in over 400 branches of Halfords and independent in-car retailers.

The decision for vehicle manufacturers to offer digital radio as standard is prompted by a number of factors. Firstly there is increasing consumer demand from drivers who are listening to digital radio stations at home.  Government also intends to confirm their plans for a future radio switchover and there has been a rapid expansion of national and local DAB coverage in the UK.

Since last year’s signing of a local DAB coverage agreement between government, BBC and commercial radio the rollout of local DAB has begun, with new transmitters in 14 areas either complete or underway, bringing BBC local stations and local commercial radio on DAB for the first time to millions of listeners and thousands of miles of roads.

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said, We see the announcement that Audi is installing digital radio as standard into new models from April as a major milestone in the UK new car market. Audi is a much beloved and respected brand in the UK, accounting for over 6% of the new car registrations every year, and now many more drivers will be able to enjoy the additional choice of stations and the digital sound quality of digital radio on the move.”

Mike Baunton, Interim Chief Executive of SMMT, commented, This demonstrates further progress and commitment by the UK motor industry in preparing for a digital radio future. We are well on track to have digital radio fitted to the majority of new cars as standard by the end of 2013.”

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