The SMMT says that a large degree of clarification and research is still needed to ensure digital radios are succesfully introduced to all vehicles by 2015.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) made the comments in its submission to the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications.
In June 2009, government published the Digital Britain Report, outlining plans for all new vehicles to be fitted with digital radios from 2013 and every vehicle currently on the road to be digitally enabled from as early as 2015.
The SMMT submission, supports the deadline for new vehicles but raises concerns about the timeline for adapting the existing 31 million vehicles currently registered in the UK. Given their long lifespan, most vehicles registered from 2006 will still be in use by 2015, requiring radio convertors to be fitted. The SMMT has questioned the availability of low-cost converters and an appropriate network of trained technicians to ensure they are correctly installed.
SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt, says while an increasing number of new vehicles are now available with digital radio, convertors would be needed to upgrade most existing models. “It is essential that a thorough cost/benefit study is undertaken before government commits to any digital migration date, particularly when applying this to vehicles already on the road.”
“Consumer demand is key to the speed at which digital radio progresses and to build this demand, broadcasters must improve the desirability of content and geographical reach. Government must also raise consumer awareness of these deadlines to encourage the take-up of this technology. A collaborative approach between broadcasters, vehicle manufacturers and government is vital to the effective delivery of the Digital Britain recommendations.”