A revolutionary development in car radio will become available later this year when BMW AG becomes the first auto maker to offer high-definition (HD) radio in some '06 models, Ward's learns.

HD radio eliminates the static, hisses and crackles that hamper conventional broadcasts today. Digital HD radio signals give analog FM and AM stations upgraded CD-quality sound.

HD also provides data features, including station, song and artist identification. The new HD receivers also will be able to receive analog signals.

Ward's has learned Visteon Corp. will supply the receivers to BMW. A Visteon spokesman confirms only that it will supply HD radio receivers to a car maker later this year.

HD radios already are available as vehicle aftermarket equipment. JVC, Kenwood and Panasonic brand HD receivers are on the market. Boston Acoustics, Onkyo and Yamaha brand receivers will debut later this year.

HD radio was invented by iBiquity Digital Corp. of Columbia, MD. The supplier has licensed its technology to the biggest radio chains in the U.S., including Clear Channel, Cox and Infinity. A total of 21 radio groups have launched programs to convert 2,000 radio stations to digital broadcasting over the next several years.