Ford to add the Alexa voice assistant to its new cars
Michigan-based company Ford's newest cars including the upcoming electric 'F-150 Lightning' pickup and first electric 'Mustang Mach-E' will feature Amazon's Alexa digital assistant.
According to Mashable, Ford on Thursday announced that Amazon's Alexa digital assistant would be built into future Ford cars. It will be available in all cars, not just those with premium packages. The first three years of the voice system will be free.
By the end of this year, the company expects to have Alexa available in at least 700,000 cars in the US and Canada. Eventually millions of Ford vehicles will come with it as a standard feature.
With Alexa baked into Ford infotainment screens, users will be able to access Amazon and Alexa features the same way they do at home with products like the Echo Dot. One will not have to push a button to activate Alexa. Instead, a user can just say the wake word, 'Alexa,' and then ask for assistance.
As reported by Mashable, one can use it for help with tasks inside and outside the car. A user can deploy Alexa to play music for a ride or look up the nearest charging station. Through the voice assistant, one can take help to something to shopping list or turn on the (smart) lights in the garage back at home.
As a user steps out of the car, he/she can use Alexa on a smartphone to look up information about the car, including how much battery charge is left, or even start it remotely so it's warmed up before one goes out for a trip.
Per Mashable, taking a cue from Tesla's playbook, Ford will also enable over-the-air (OTA) updates to add new features to cars through its 'Ford Power-Up' program. 100,000 cars received updates earlier this year, including the new electric 'Mustang' and the 2021 'F-150' truck.
Later, more customers, including those with the upcoming 'F-150 Lightning' and Ford's revamped 'Bronco', will also have access to wireless updates. Ford expects to produce 33 million vehicles with 'Power-Up' updates by 2028.
Ford's hands-free driving assistance system will be one of the future updates later this year for those with subscriptions. Another new feature that will be downloaded into cars is 'Sketch', which turns the centre touchscreen into a notepad for quick drawings, notes, games, and calculations.
During a press briefing this week a Ford exec sounded a lot like Tesla CEO Elon Musk when talking about OTA updates, "Vehicles used to just get older, now Fords will get better over time," he quipped.