Ford is set to be the first car manufacturer to offer digital radios as standard in all of its new cars from next year, in a move that will give the technology a much needed boost.
Commercial radio companies and the BBC have waited a long time for a car company to kit out motor vehicles with next-generation radios capable of receiving many more stations than normal FM and AM models.
According to reports in The Guardian, Ford will offer an in-car digital radio in every model from 1 January, a year earlier than expected.
The radios, made by German manufacturer Blaupunkt, are the same size as normal car stereos and will receive AM, LW and FM stations as well as playing MP3 files from a CD or memory card.
Ford dealers will have a at least one car in their showrooms fitted with a digital tuner so that customers can experience the greater range of stations and compare sound quality with FM.
Up until now many people have been put off of Digital Audio Broadcasting (Dab) receivers because of the high cost, although this has been resolved in part by the recent appearance of digital tuners costing £99.
Many others complain that Dab sounds inferior compared to a good FM radio as broadcasters seek to squeeze as many different stations onto airwaves.
The radio industry is keen to push the benefits of digital radio onto a sceptical public and sees cars as an effective weapon in overcoming consumer doubts.
The Digital Radio Development Bureau has predicted that 300,000 digital radio sets will be in place in the UK by the end of 2003.
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