Amazon Expands Reach into Automotive Industry

Amazon plans to move its way into the automotive industry with its Alexa voice assistant.  Amazon is expected to grow its Alexa-enabled offerings in the coming months to include a significant expansion into the embedded software systems of vehicles.

By brining Alexa into vehicles, Amazon is able to expand their business portfolio into the automotive market.  Amazon recently made a substantial investment into a electric-vehicle start up called “Rivian.”  In 2016, Amazon began partnering with automakers to have basic tasks such as checking fuel levels remotely.  Through Alexa, Amazon can be enabled through a vehicle’s sound system on an app, which requires automotive accessories with Alexa built-in.

“The real North Star for us is to be embedded with all the cars,” said Ned Curic, vice president of Amazon Alexa Automotive. “That’s where we want to get. We’re working very hard to get there because we believe that is the best experience.”

It’s not clear how many automakers Amazon is in discussions with about embedding Alexa into their vehicles, but Amazon has said that “consumers should expect a significant number of vehicles having access to Alexa in the coming years.”  Audi, BMW and Mini have already begun installing Alexa into their vehicle software systems.

Curic, a former executive with Toyota Motor North America, said starting with luxury brands was important because of their commitment to connectivity, including the ability to remotely update Alexa’s software.

“We update our experiences constantly on a weekly basis, and that’s not something the auto industry is used to,” he said. “When we have embedded experience, it’s quite important that experience is really solid, and obviously there will always be need to improve. We’re working closely with them.”

Audi plans to use Alexa across all vehicles,  and even launched Alexa on the E-Tron crossover in 2018.  Audi plans to launch this in the Q3 in 2020.

The partnership between BMW and Amazon is supposed to provide a seamless integrated experience for users between their home devices and their vehicles. The goal is to connect home and vehicle for those with a busy lifestyle. The Amazon Alexa would allow drivers remote access to the technology in their car, making for a safer and easier driving experience.  Users can simply place phone calls or change the radio station through Alexa.