EV Workaround Turns The Car Radio Back On

There aren’t many things wrong with a new electric vehicle (EV). This is because EVs do not have nearly as many moving parts as a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle, so they don’t need repair as often. They also do not require tune-ups or oil changes, and they are safer because they typically have a lower center of gravity and do not roll as easily. Also, there is no gas tank to catch fire and explode in the event of a severe accident.

One problem has arisen, though, and it’s not strictly mechanical. For people who commute to work and enjoy listening to morning talk radio or news and weather broadcasts, driving an EV may preclude listening to car radio because of the electrical interference. This is caused by the frequency converter that turns electrical energy into mechanical energy to control the EVs electric motor speed and direction of rotation.

image via Fraunhofer IZM

This conversion, of different voltages and frequencies into balanced electrical currents, happens over and over in milliseconds, and creates an electromagnetic field which distorts or even blocks reception. The solution is to insulate an EV’s wiring and the motor itself, an expensive process that translates to even greater cost on the showroom floor. Fortunately, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM (Berlin) have discovered a few workarounds that will in future allow EV owners to enjoy their morning radio.

Using computer simulations, laboratory tests have determined where in the EV components should be located to reduce electromagnetic interaction. Second, researchers developed a symmetrical power module—an integral part of the frequency converter—which prevents interference altogether. This device is still in development, but Fraunhofer’s research will be useful not merely in insuring that EV drivers can listen to their radios, but may come in handy when residential installations of solar photovoltaic (or small wind) energy distort or disturb radio reception inside the house as a result of inverter use.


  • Reply April 15, 2012


    Thank you for the article.   One phrase in the article should be altered from “an electromagnetic field which distorts or even blocks reception” to “an electromagnetic field which interferes with reception” as the latter is more clear as to the effect at play here.  The radio receiver is receiving the intended station signal and the unwanted signal from the vehicle’s electrical signal.  All strategies to address the problem described in the article will either attempt to increase the received station signal power and/or reduce the received vehicle electrical signal.

    Hope this helps.

  • Reply May 7, 2012

    Henk Daalder

     It is just a matter of sound electrical engineering to avoid radio interference.
    Home solar inverters can do this, although the power of a EV inverter is a factor 10 higher.
    The electronic ignition also needed some engineering.

    Maybe Germany has this problem because they entered the EV race very late

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