Autos

GM, Amazon partner to install Alexa voice assistant in cars

Key Points
  • The popular voice assistant will be available for download on model year 2018 and newer GM vehicles in the first half of next year.
  • With Alexa, drivers will be able to control smart home devices as well as in-vehicle features such as their phone, radio and navigation.
  • The partnership is another step for both the automotive and tech industries to better integrate new technologies into cars to appease consumers.
General Motors on Sept. 25, 2019 announced it is partnering with Amazon to enable the tech company's Alexa voice assistant in millions of its vehicles.
GM

DETROIT – General Motors is partnering with Amazon to enable the tech company's Alexa voice assistant in millions of its vehicles.

The companies on Wednesday said the popular voice technology will be available on model year 2018 and newer Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC vehicles with compatible infotainment systems in the first half of next year.

The partnership is another step for both the automotive and tech industries as the sectors continue to converge in attempt to better integrate new features into cars to appease consumers who've grown accustomed to using technology in their homes and on their phones.

"This brings the best of two fantastic companies," Santiago Chamorro, GM's vice president of Global Connected Services, said in an interview. "We have listened to our customers and their insights are clear, they want to carry those ecosystems into their vehicles."

Data produced from the voice commands will be shared between both companies, according to officials. Financial details of the tie-up were not disclosed. GM also declined to discuss potential pricing for the in-vehicle Alexa app, citing additional information will be available closer to launch.

With the downloaded Alexa app, drivers will be able to control smart devices in their home such as thermostats and lights in addition to controlling in-vehicle features such as their radio, phone and navigation. A cell phone is not required to use the features.

Customers will be able to choose to either use Alexa via the infotainment screen or have it replace the in-vehicle voice software that can be prompted by a button on the steering wheel. They will be available to download the app via the vehicle's infotainment screen. 

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Ned Curic, vice president of Amazon Alexa Automotive, said the integration of Alexa into GM vehicles via an app is a "much further and deeper integration" than anything the tech giant has previously announced with other automakers.

"It's quite unique," said Curic, a former executive with Toyota Motor North America. "What the GM engineering team has done is unparalleled to date."

Amazon has previously announced Alexa in-vehicle partnerships with automakers such as Ford Motor, BMW Group, including Mini, and Audi. It initially started partnering with automakers on Alexa to do rudimentary tasks such as checking fuel levels and starting the vehicle remotely via Alexa-enabled smart devices in 2016.

Bringing Alexa into vehicles is part of a growing automotive business portfolio for Amazon that includes a consumer research website and a substantial investment in electric-vehicle startup Rivian.

The partnership with Amazon and GM follows the two companies announcing in-vehicle delivery for the Detroit automaker's vehicles in April 2018. It also comes weeks after GM announced it was partnering with Google to install the tech giant's voice assistant and apps, including Google Maps, into GM vehicles beginning in 2021.