Ford has announced it is teaming up with Amazon to integrate Alexa virtual assistant into its cars, allowing vehicle owners to access shop, search, and control smart home features on the road.
The partnership means owners of Ford cars equipped with the SYNC 3 AppLink system will be able to access Amazon's Alexa voice-activated virtual assistant from the driver's seat, enabling them to check the weather, add items to shopping lists, play audiobooks, and control Alexa-compatible smart home devices, like lights and thermostats.
"Ford and Amazon are aligned around a vision that your voice should be the primary way to interface with your favorite devices and services," said Don Butler, executive director, Ford Connected Vehicle and Services. "Customers will be able to start their vehicles from home, and manage smart home features while on the road – making life easier."
Ford said that beginning next month, some owners of its vehicles will be able to use Alexa voice commands to access certain car functions and even check the range of their car. Specifically, owners of the Ford Focus Electric, Fusion Energy, and the C-MAX Energy will be able to use their Amazon Echo or Echo Dot smart speaker in the home to lock their car or start the engine remotely. Ford said it plans to offer the Alexa commands in more of its SYNC Connect cars at a later date.
The second phase of the rollout, expected this summer, allows Ford owners to tap into a broad set of Alexa skills using their voice while driving – helping them keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
"We're excited to work with Ford to enhance the driver experience both inside and outside of the vehicle," said Steve Rabuchin, vice president, Amazon Alexa. "We believe voice is the future, and this is particularly true in cars. 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. We can’t wait for Ford customers to try this out."
Amazon's Alexa has been cropping up in a range of upcoming products at CES so far this year, appearing in third-party smart speakers, TVs, lamps, and even refrigerators.