DAB radio must be standard on new cars from December 2020

DAB digital radio will soon become manadatory on all new cars, bringing the UK into line with European legislation.

DAB radio to be mandatory in 2020

Parliamentary legislation will require new cars sold in the UK to be fitted with a DAB-compatible radio. 

From 21 December 2020, where a new car has a radio fitted, it must be able to receive digital audio broadcasting. 

The provision is found in The Road Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 2020, which take effect from 1 September 2020. 

This ensures the UK will match the European Electronic Communications Code Directive, introduced by the European Union.

The requirement for standard DAB in new cars was uncovered by Andrew Clews of The Motoring Podcast.

The advantages of DAB for all

DAB radio to be mandatory in 2020

According to the WorldDAB industry forum, 95 percent of new cars sold in the UK already come with a DAB radio. 

Major manufacturers such as BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen began the digital rollout more than a decade ago. It leaves very few new cars on sale without a DAB radio.

Today, there are more than 485 DAB stations available in the UK, with 97.3 percent of the population covered by its service.

In-car listening now accounts for 44.5 percent of digital radio ‘reach’ across the country.

Tuned in for the future

DAB radio to be mandatory in 2020

The DAB requirements will not apply to cars built or offered for sale before 21 December 2020. In addition, second-hand cars imported to the UK after that date will also be exempt. 

Where a car comes without any radio fitted at all, the new legislation will (sensibly) not compel manufacturers to install a DAB receiver. 

The new rules will apply to all ‘Category M’ motor vehicles. Minibuses, coaches, ambulances, and motorhomes are therefore included in the requirements.


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