TuneIn Radio is in the business of aggregating internet radio stations from around the world, and the company’s chief revenue officer, Rob Deichert, was in an upbeat mood when we met up at CES late last week. Deichert has been touting new partnerships with EV makers VinFast and Fisker as well as component manufacturers Harman International, Tom-Tom and Visteon, a Ford spin-off.
TuneIn is already working with who’s who of other electric vehicle builders, including Lucid, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar-Land Rover, Rivian, and Stellantis (parent to Alpha Romeo, Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram, Fiat, Maserati, and Peugeot) , and Tesla.
“The average life of a vehicle in the United States is 12 years, so there are tens of millions of people who are considering their next car purchase, and they are seriously considering electric vehicles,” said Dechert. “We think the tipping point for electric vehicles – and TuneIn – is just a few years away.”
Electric cars—and just electric vehicles—were everywhere you looked in CES’ massive auto area; Games are equipped with large, tablet-style infotainment screens that work well with TuneIn’s see-a-bunch, one-tap menus that organize content by favorites, formats, and geographic location.
Internet radio is attractive to electric vehicle manufacturers in large part because the tuners that pull in terrestrial AM radio stations are extremely vulnerable to interference from the electric motors that power the cars. The content available on AM radio – talk shows, sports, news, religious and ethnic/minority programming – is more popular than ever. and electric vehicle manufacturers he could Solve the interference problem by using better shielded filters and cables, and by taking care of where the various electrical components are installed inside the vehicle, explained the communication system engineer at Xperi Inc. New York Times article (Xperi developed the HD Radio platform for AM and FM).
However, putting this programming online not only eliminates the problem of interference, it opens up a world of opportunity for manufacturers. Sell subscriptionsincluding the 5G mobile service needed to bring something like TuneIn to your dashboard.
So, as they did with 8-track disc players, cassettes, and CDs, car manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Tesla, Volkswagen, and Volvo dropped AM radios from their in-cabin entertainment systems. Ford still offers AM radio in the Mustang Mach-E, but will soon drop it from its F-150 Lightning electric truck.
TuneIn isn’t the only option out there, as streaming services like iHeart Radio, Radio Player Live, and Radio.net offer the means to bring old-school local radio into the car. TuneIn also offers audio feeds from Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, Fox Radio News and MSNBC, “run with fewer or no commercials and more news than you might see on TV versions,” Deichert said, as well as “new additions.” Such as “Court TV episodes” and classic episodes of “Jeopardy” combine three shows into one hour.
Most of TuneIn’s 70 million global listeners (per month) go for either the free ad-supported version or the one-time $9.99 TuneIn Pro version, which has fewer commercials. If you’re willing to pay $7.99 per month or $69.99 per year, TuneIn Premium is commercially free; Plus, it provides access to big sporting events: college football and basketball, MLB, the Premier League, and the NHL.
As it moves into more cars, TuneIn clearly hopes to succeed with the kind of subscription model that keeps Sirius/XM satellite radio with 34.2 million customers.
While it’s true that relatively recent cars with Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto can also stream services like TuneIn, via your phone and Bluetooth connection, the direct indirect car setup you saw in Neat VinFast VF 6 compact SUV— combined with 6 to 12 months of free 5G connectivity from T-Mobile — it would certainly tempt me as a car buyer to explore the next, really important thing about radio listening.
And by the time the freebie deal runs out, I’ll be converted.