Amazon expanding reach in the automotive industry

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Curic, a former executive with Toyota Motor North America Inc., 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 roll out Alexa gradually across its vehicle fleet, spokeswoman Amelia Fine-Morrison said. Audi launched Alexa on the new e-tron all-electric crossover last year. The next vehicle will be the redesigned Q3, she said.

BMW’s partnership with Amazon for Alexa is about providing a seamless experience between their home devices and their vehicles for their “digital lifestyles,” said Dieter May, BMW’s senior vice president of digital services and business models.

Connecting the in-home and in-vehicle experiences is the aim of embedding Alexa in more vehicles, Curic said.

Voice-enabled devices have been adopted more quickly than many industry onlookers expected since Alexa launched in 2014 due to their hands-free convenience, connectivity and functionality.

EMarketer forecasts that in 2019 74.2 million people in the U.S. will use a smart speaker, up 15 percent over 2018. Amazon’s Echo speaker with Alexa is expected to capture 63 percent of that market in 2019, according to eMarketer, a research company.

At home, Alexa devices allow owners to use voice commands to play music and get information ranging from weather forecasts to a store’s location and hours. They also can control other smart home devices, such as a Nest thermostat.

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