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GM Vehicle Owners Will Soon Be Able to Download Amazon's Alexa via an OTA Update

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【Summary】Amazon continues its push into the automotive space, and soon driver’s of select General Motors vehicles will able to control their infotainment systems using just their voice. On Wednesday, General Motors announced it will enable U.S. owners of 2018 and newer model vehicles to download Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant software to control navigation, streaming media and phones starting next year.

FutureCar Staff    Sep 26, 2019 5:45 PM PT
GM Vehicle Owners Will Soon Be Able to Download Amazon's Alexa via an OTA Update

Amazon continues its push into the automotive space, and soon driver's of select General Motors vehicles will able to control their infotainment systems using just their voice.

On Wednesday, General Motors announced it will enable U.S. owners of 2018 and newer model vehicles to download Amazon's Alexa digital assistant software to control navigation, streaming media and phones starting next year.

Drivers can access Alexa by using simple voice commands, all while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. Some of Alexa enabled features include ,checking news, control smart home devices like lights or thermostats, add items to their shopping cart. Customers will also have access tens of thousands of Alexa skills.

Alexa will leverage the built in 4G LTE connectivity and GM's updateable embedded app framework in the vehicle. GM said it will make Alexa available on 2018 and newer cars, trucks and crossovers with compatible infotainment systems.

The agreement is a win for both companies. GM said its research shows that many drivers prefer to use the same voice services they use in their home in their vehicles.  While Amazon is gaining a bigger foothold in the automotive space. 

"Bringing the Alexa experience to our vehicles is an example of how we are listening to our customers' feedback, and offering them the voice technology of their choice." said Santiago Chamorro, GM's vice president for Global Connected Services.

GM_Alexa_Thinking.jpg

Embedding Alexa in vehicles is part of Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos strategy to extend the e-commerce company's reach into transportation. The agreement gives Amazon access to millions of GM vehicles. 

The slow moving auto industry in the U.S. has often lagged behind on the technology, which is frustrating to drivers who have to sync their smartphones to use their favorite apps such as Spotify and Google Maps.

Amazon already offers its "Amazon Key" to drivers of select GM vehicles, allowing a customer's Amazon order to be delivered to the trunk of the vehicle instead of on their doorstep. Amazon Key is also compatible with certain Volvo, Ford, Honda and Acura and Cadillac models.

Chamorro said to Reuters that customers ultimately will be able to choose which voice concierge service to use—the car's standard voice controls, Alexa, Google, or an app installed on a smartphone. 

"We believe in a future where the customer has options," said Amazon's Ned Curic, vice president of Alexa Auto at Amazon.

In addition to Amazon, rivals Apple and Google are also developing software for the automotive industry, often greatly improving upon existing OEM infotainment systems.

Earlier this month, GM said it would embed Alphabet's Google technology in the dashboards of vehicles sold outside of China beginning in 2021. The separate Alexa and Google deals do not cover GM vehicles sold in China.

"Our solution for China is particular to China," Chamorro said to Reuters. "Stay tuned. We are working on it."

GM's shift to Google and Amazon to provide software for interactive dashboards has battered the automaker's traditional suppliers of vehicle infotainment and navigation systems. As reported by Reuters, shares in GM in-dash navigation services supplier Telenav Inc have lost half their value since GM announced its deal with Alphabet to embed Google's Android OS in its vehicles.

Sweden-based Volvo is offering Google's Android OS in its vehicles. Last year, Volvo unveiled an XC40 SUV running the latest version of its Sensus infotainment system embedded with Android P, which allows driver to use their favorite Android apps without having to sync a smartphone. The Volvo XC40 also comes with a built in Google Assistant button on the steering wheel.

Owners of GM vehicles will be able to download Alexa software to their vehicles during the first half of 2020.

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