VW embeds Amazon's Alexa in its cars

January 22, 2017

Volkswagen will become the first automaker to make Amazon's Alexa concierge service a factory-installed part of its new cars. 

The German automaker joins several other automakers—namely Ford, BMW, and Hyundai—in including Alexa capability, but VW is the first to actually install Alexa directly into the vehicle's infotainment system. Other systems require a connected smartphone to have an Alexa app installed on them.

With Alexa's Echo technology, VW says that owners will be able to connect directly to their Alexa devices at home. With the right Amazon devices, they'll be able to turn on lights or adjust climate control systems.

Since VW will include Alexa on its vehicles, users can ask questions about their cars from inside their houses. One example that VW provided to Automotive News is to ask how full a car's gas tank is from inside their home. Alexa will communicate with the vehicle, determine how full its tank is, and report back. In the case of an electric VW like the e-Golf, it could instead report back how full the battery is or how long until it will be completely charged.  

Since the system will know what VW a user owns, Engaget reports that drivers can also order parts for it through Alexa—"Alexa, order new windshield wipers," for instance.

Ford says that its Alexa integration will allow for some of the same functionality as far as device-to-vehicle communication. 

It's relatively simple tech at the moment, but including Alexa on a vehicle is one step closer toward a full artificial intelligence for things like more efficient route calculation as it begins to learn a driver's habits. Additionally, the Alexa integration should reduce how much drivers will have to sort through increasingly complicated infotainment systems while they're on the go. 

VW hasn't indicated just when its Alexa roll-out will begin.


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