Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

BMW three Series dashboard
CAP is predicting universal take up of DAB following BMW’s decision to offer digital radio as standard

Story: DAVID WILKINS

MANY UK kitchens have had a DAB radio for years but the vast majority of our cars are still waiting for a digital switchover. Now, though, residual values and car spec experts CAP are predicting that business motorists will in future no longer have to endure crackly AM reception of Radio 5 Live or struggle to hear Test Match Special on Radio 4 Long Wave during long days on the road.

That’s because the big car manufacturers are finally expected to go for the DAB digital radio standard in a big way next year. The trigger, says CAP, is BMW’s decision to equip all of its cars with DAB radios from the beginning of 2013.

A few manufacturers have already been promoting DAB – for example, Vauxhall has generally been making digital radios standard when it introduces new model lines – but according to CAP, as recently as the first quarter of 2010, only 3.8 per cent of new cars registered had DAB as standard equipment. By the third quarter of this year, the figure had risen to 25.5 per cent but even now, almost half of the models sold in the UK don’t even offer DAB as an option, including most of the best known business cars.

According to CAP New Vehicle Data expert David Saville: “BMW’s announcement this week that DAB would become standard across their entire model range is a real shot in the arm for a less piecemeal approach by the industry to DAB.

“Whether it’s in 2015 as originally planned, or later, DAB will be essential rather than a ‘nice to have’ option. Experience shows us that where the Germans lead in the car market, others follow, and we therefore expect most manufacturers to start making DAB standard across their ranges in the coming year to 18 months.”

Do You Have A Vehicle Leasing Question?
Feel free to ask us your question...

Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

4 COMMENTS

  1. DAB is absolutely not the future of radio – it’s an obsolete, inefficient system which has been rejected by almost all other countries. The sound quality is far worse than FM stereo, with many stations broadcasting in poor-quality mono. Mono – in the 21st century! And the price of every DAB radio includes a hefty licence fee which must be paid to those who developed the technology, while FM circuits can be used for free. Finally, there are parts of the country which will never be covered by the DAB signal, and many local stations which will never be on DAB because it is far too expensive to transmit.

    DAB is a white elephant. Mobile internet is the future of digital radio, with FM stereo as a cheap, reliable backup.

  2. Hi Graham

    DAB certainly hasn’t taken off except in the UK and one or two other countries such as Denmark, and one of the reasons for that is that there are big doubts about whether it is suitable as a future standard.

    One of the main drivers for the recent availability of DAB radio in cars is that DAB+ is now taking off in Germany after DAB flopped there a few years ago. DAB+ radios can pick up DAB but radios specifically intended to be used in the UK for DAB can’t always be used for DAB+ (this is mainly software/licensing/royalties related rather than a question of hardware).

    My understanding is that the quality limitations of the current service are mainly the result of the broadcasters’ decisions to broadcast at lower bit rates in order to cram in more stations, rather than being inherent to DAB. My guess is that for most people, listenable 5 Live is a big quality gain that more than outweighs slightly less listenable to Radio 3, and that the increased selection of stations is valued too.

    For the time being, I don’t think mobile Internet can do the job. 3G, and also initial 4G coverage is more limited than DAB coverage and it is far less efficient to clog up limited and valuable mobile capacity to unicast the same information in thousands or even millions of individual streams to each listener than it is to use a multicast i.e. broadcast (one to many) technology such as DAB.

    That said, Internet radio is slowly getting into cars via, for example, the Mini Connected app, which allows access to Internet radio streams via the driver’s mobile handset.

    Incidentally, I’ve had a DAB radio in my main car for about a year now and hardly ever lose signal, even in quite remote areas.

  3. I have DAB radio on my current car – an Audi A4 Avant. I really like it because of the wider range of stations it gives you. However, what I find irritating is the dropouts.

    Around BCM Towers there are two areas where the radio goes irritatingly silent for a few seconds – this sort of drop out needs to be sorted.

    Having said that, bravo to BMW for making it standard – and this from a manufacturer who used to supply cars without radios at all! (A cost option upgrade!)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here