CES: Ford Will Use Amazon's Alexa in its Models
Ford, the second largest U.S. automaker, said it will begin offering “Alexa in the car” this summer on vehicles equipped with its Sync 3 infotainment system. An automotive version of Amazon’s popular voice-activated Echo assistant, Alexa in the car will let drivers order items on Amazon, listen to audio books, play music, check news, search for restaurants and get directions. The driver just has to push a button on the steering wheel and say, “Alexa,” followed by a command.
Amazon is eager to form alliances with automakers and also is working with BMW to integrate Alexa into its luxury cars. The dashboard has become a hotly contested node on the Internet of Things, as automakers and tech giants tussle to control revenue that will likely flow from more connected and autonomous cars. Apple’s CarPlay and Alphabet’s Android Auto, simplified dashboard versions of their smartphone controls, are slowly appearing in car cockpits.
“Voice is the future and this is particularly true in cars,” Steve Rabuchin, vice president of Amazon Alexa, said in a statement at CES. “The ability to use your voice to control your smart home, access entertainment, manage to-do lists and more makes for an extraordinary driving experience.” Amazon introduced Alexa with the Echo speaker in 2014 as an intelligent home assistant. The product was a surprise hit and Amazon doubled-down last March by introducing new versions, including the Echo Dot. Both sold out before this Christmas.
The first Alexa applications will show up later this month in Ford’s Focus electric car and its two plug-in hybrids, the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi. Those cars will be equipped with an “Alexa at home” app that enables drivers from their couch to start their cars, lock and unlock the doors and check driving range and how much charge is left in the battery.