Amazon's 'Alexa' is the Automotive Life Partner You've Apparently Been Missing

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
amazons 8216 alexa is the automotive life partner youve apparently been missing

Amazon’s Echo is a voice-operated smart device for your residence that, despite being notably gimmicky, has become increasingly popular with geeky homeowners. You can ask it for the weather, to read you a book, request a certain song, buy things for you online, adjust the thermostat, dim the lights, or schedule your calendar. My father has one and, because the device represents itself through a pleasant-sounding female voice calling itself Alexa, my mother refers to it as “his second wife.”

Soon, Alexa and the associated Echo technology will be available on Ford, Volkswagen, Hyundai, and BMW branded automobiles. The new feature should offer a catalog of in-car commands and can be set-up to work in tandem with a home device to do things like flip on the the lights prior to pulling into the driveway. While this might not drastically enhance your quality of living, it will feel incredibly futuristic for about two weeks.

While the other automakers are introducing Alexa through application networks synced through a driver’s smartphone, Automotive News says VW plans to have the technology integrated into the car directly and won’t require a second device. That removes set-up headaches and offers additional functionality between the home and device, which could theoretically unlock car doors or remind you that you’ll need to get gas soon.

However, Ford claims smartphone users will see the same broad functionality when Alexa is implemented in its vehicles. Using the Amazon Echo or Dot at home, owners can make requests like “Alexa, ask my FordMobile to start my car,” or “Alexa, ask my FordMobile to check my fuel range.”

Using artificial intelligence, Amazon’s system is intended to become progressively familiar with users’ preferences, too. This means the car should learn the routes you like to take and use it to help better curate its navigation choices. Of course, the biggest benefit — outside of being able to show it off — is the added safety provided by not having to interact with fiddly touch-controls as often while driving.

“Volkswagen and Amazon share a common vision around voice as the future, it’s a safe and natural way for us to interact with the vehicle,” said John Scumniotales, general manager for Amazon Alexa Automotive.

As far as when the devices will start appearing in Volkswagen’s cars, the company hasn’t said and is referring to the technology as being “under development.” That said, it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait too long. Ford has stated that Alexa should start becoming available on some SYNC3-equipped vehicles this summer and Hyundai already has the technology available on its Blue Link connected cars.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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  • Beerboy12 Beerboy12 on Jan 21, 2017

    The Parlotones! Excellent band, love them.

  • Eyeflyistheeye Eyeflyistheeye on Jan 21, 2017

    As someone who was previously involved in a subcontractor for Amazon, watching the condition of the managers who worked for Amazon and the fact that Amazon's logistics kept repeatedly changing the terms of our partnership swore me off of buying anything from them for the rest of my life. Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are all untrustworthy. But Amazon is a wealthy autistic child of a company that thrives to squeeze their business partners and employees for all they're worth and then some so they can throw money at whatever idea they have this quarter, good or bad. Hopefully, this is another flavor-of-the-month thing supported via app like Aha Radio or Spotify integration (Bluetooth audio). I don't want anything from Amazon having control over my car and it's good that only one company, America's favorite automaker, Volkswagen wants Echo permanently implemented in their cars.

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    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jan 22, 2017

      You know, at least Microsoft and Apple's business model just involves selling me hardware and software. Yes there is targeted advertising but I can mostly kill it with little effect on my user experience. The others not so much. I'm pretty well done with Google. I currently use an iPhone and a mac, but I eagerly await the Surface Phone. I'm pretty sure that and a surface pro will be in my future unless Apple gets off the "get rid of all the ports and mag safe power supply" game. There is not an Android anything in my future.

  • Irvingklaws Gas station coffee (which is usually pretty good these days) and a small bag of chips/nuts/pretzels to help stay alert. Sometimes bring a Gatorade because it doesn't seem to make me need to use the restroom as much as water or soda. Maybe stop McD's or BK for something to-go if I actually get hungry. Nothing fancy. I'll eat better when I get where I'm going 🙂
  • Legacygt There is nothing "trapezoidish" about that grill.
  • Ltcmgm78 I think cars need an AM/FM radio for emergency notifications. Driving at night, I will scan the AM frequency just to see what comes up and to be amazed at the different cities I can get after dark. My SAAB had a Euro-spec radio and I could get long-wave (lower freq than the AM band) and found lots of interesting listening.
  • Golden2husky You'd be way better off in a base Vette for that money.
  • Gene Sedans and coupes don't sell in the quantity that they used to but they still make up a significant market. Why Ford abandoned this segment still baffles me. Again, just look at Toyota, Dodge, Mercedes, BMW, Hyundai, etc who have not abandoned this segment.