Ford is integrating Amazon's Alexa digital assistant into its vehicles, which will allow drivers to start their cars using their Amazon Echo, or do things like play audiobooks, order items on Amazon, and search for destinations using Alexa while driving.
Alexa is the voice-controlled, cloud-based digital personal assistant built into Amazon's Echo smart-speaker device, which has proved to be a surprise hit. Amazon has signed a number of deals with consumer electronics makers to embed Alexa in products, including TVs, ovens and washing machines, in a bid to make the service the operating system for smart homes.
Ford said it will roll out its Alexa integration in two phases. Later this month it will allow drivers to connect to their car via their Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap. Owners of Ford Focus Electric, Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi will be the first to access this home-to-car capability using MyFord Mobile.
Speaking to Alexa they will be able to start or stop the engine (which according to Ford's video will require a password), lock or unlock doors, check range and charge status, and check fuel level and mileage. Ford said it is working on adding Alexa home-to-car integration for vehicles with Sync Connect in the future.
From this summer, Ford said motorists will be able to use Alexa skills in-car.
Ford drivers with Sync 3 will be able to ask Alexa to read weather reports, play music, check news, or add items to shopping lists by tapping the voice recognition button on the steering wheel, then say "Alexa," followed by a question or command. Ford is currently beta-testing this with employees.
Motorists can use Alexa to find a destination - like a nearby restaurant - and the address is then sent to the SYNC 3 navigation system. Customers will also be able to access many Alexa smart home devices to control lighting, security systems, thermostats and more from the vehicle.
Steve Rabuchin, vice president for Amazon Alexa said: "We believe voice is the future, and this is particularly true in cars."
More on the Amazon Echo
- Amazon Echo: The four hard problems Amazon had to solve to make it work
- Amazon Echo voice-controlled smart speaker comes to UK and Germany
- Amazon intros cheaper Echo Dot, priced at $49.99
- Amazon Echo review: Alexa is the first digital assistant that is actually helpful
- Apple's Echo rival reportedly has a prototype, complete with cameras