Surrey In-Car DAB Trial

Any vehicle can be converted to digital radio as this conversion of local farmer John Nicholas’s tractor showed!

As we know, the future of radio is digital. As the number of new cars with DAB as standard (86.8% in Q2 2017) continues to increase, we are seeing a significant increase in cars on the road that can access digital radio (currently approx. 10 million).

However, the majority of the UK’s 34 million cars still need upgrading to digital (and there’s 24 million of them!) and as the transition to digital radio moves on, it is vital that we all understand the challenges to converting cars and is addressing them.

From the digital radio switchover in Norway, which began in January this year, we learned a few things on a variety of issues such as the importance of trained installers, the availability of products and consumer communications.

In Norway, there are also a number of garages successfully offering conversions to customers when providing servicing and MOT, which is not yet happening in the UK.

Surrey is one of the most digital areas in the UK, with over 70% of homes having a digital radio and over 53% of all listening is to digital. There are now over 50 stations available in Surrey on DAB, including the brilliant bunch of local stations on our multiplex. By upgrading their car to digital radio, drivers can have all the digital stations they enjoy at home in their car too.

What is it?

The Go Digital Car conversion pilot has been put together and coordinated by Digital Radio UK, and sees local broadcasters, garages and retailers working together to make it easier for drivers to get digital radio in their car. It is also supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

A wider range of digital radio car adapters and new services will be introduced in Surrey, and for the first time drivers will be able to get digital radio fitted in their when they book it in for a service or MOT.

The local radio broadcasters from our multiplex involved include BBC Radio Surrey, Eagle Radio, Jack FM, Heart Surrey and Premier Praise. They will be communicating the benefits of digital radio in car by running ads, features and listener competitions to win in-car digital radios and car adaptors.

The retailers and garages supporting the Surrey pilot include Halfords and Halfords Autocentres, KwikFit and independent garages and retailers.

The radio and adapter manufacturers involved include Nextbase, Pure, Sony, RadioPlayer Car, Kenwood JVC and AutoDAB, and from Norway Tiny and POP.

When’s it happening?

It launches today – Monday 16th October and runs for three months until the 12th January 2018.


By running the pilot in Surrey, we hope to establish learnings to improve the experience of getting the UK’s cars upgraded to digital radio that can be rolled out nationally. We will be running joined-up industry communications to promote and educate people about converting cars to digital radio. We will conduct consumer research on their experience of getting cars converted and using the new equipment. And ultimately, increase the availability of digital radio in car upgrades and drivers’ awareness and understanding of how and where to do it.

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