Automakers are pairing up with Amazon to bring Alexa, Amazon's voice-enabled intelligent personal assistant, into your car, despite the technology being far from widely accepted.
Amazon has made it easy on the automakers, charging nothing for the partnerships except the charges associated with developing the software for each car. That makes it a low-risk tech play for carmakers, who are competing to show consumers and investors they are technologically savvy.
And if Amazon really has dreams of worldwide domination — something that seems more likely given the company's announcement it will acquire Whole Foods — having a device that acts like a personal assistant and routes people to Amazon's products seems to make sense.
"Our mission is pretty clear, pretty simple: We're here to bring Alexa into as many automobiles as possible over the upcoming years," John Scumniotales, general manager for Amazon Alexa Automotive, told Automotive News.
Amazon wants to capitalize on a growing demand for connectivity by consumers as well as automakers looking to improve current in-vehicle voice recognition systems, many of which have harmed quality and reliability ratings for a decade or more.
"Given the automobile and some of the safety concerns, we think it's the ideal experience for the car," Scumniotales said. He referred to some current voice-enabled infotainment systems as "quite frankly unsafe."
Consumer demand for virtual assistants such as Alexa remains a niche, but growing, market.