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Alexa could be the voice of your car soon

11 Apr 2019
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An increasing number of OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are poised to integrate Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant in-vehicle, without the need for a handset and despite concerns over data and OEM-branding. 

According to ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, 20 million vehicles shipping in 2023 are expected to enable one or more of these assistants, without consumers requiring a handset to use the digital assistant.

“OEMs have realised that an increasing number of consumers may see value in being able to control their smart home devices in-vehicle and tap into their Apple, Amazon or Google ecosystem while on the move,” says ABI Research smart mobility and automotive analyst Shiv Patel. 

“At the same time, these technology companies are looking to the automotive market as a new business vertical to expand their brand and extract valuable consumer data.”

The historic approach to embedded voice control from OEMs has been to develop their own branded assistant, typically in conjunction with key voice technology supplier, Nuance, that can compete with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and other tech-branded assistants. 

Some OEMs such as BMW and Audi have now chosen to adopt a new approach of developing an intermodal, multiple assistant systems in which their own OEM-branded assistants sit alongside an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. 

For BMW, the BMW Open Mobility Cloud will enable compatibility for both Amazon Alexa as well as Google Assistant. 

Key tier one supplier, HARMAN is also enabling OEMs to support both assistants simultaneously through its cloud platform, HARMAN Ignite. 

These approaches allow OEMs to meet consumer’s requirements of tapping into their growing ecosystems outside of automotive, while still maintaining some control over data and branding. 

Other OEMs, meanwhile, have given up on voice control altogether and are simply providing a single-assistant system developed by Google.

Both Amazon and Google have announced key partnerships that will see their voice assistants incorporated in the vehicle, without the need for a handset. 

Google has struck key partnerships with Volvo and Nissan-Renault for a deep, in-vehicle integration of Google Maps, Google Play Store, Google Auto, and Google Assistant - while Amazon has announced a key partnership with Audi that will see their voice assistant, Amazon Alexa, work alongside the OEM-branded Audi Assistant in 2019 production vehicles.

These embedded applications provide Amazon and Google an opportunity to expand their brand in automotive as well as provide increased access to important data from the vehicle. 

Amazon could use the in-vehicle opportunity for its e-commerce business while Google could use this data to feed into new location-based advertising opportunities.

“Overall, these partnerships represent a significant step forward for Amazon and Google as they could pave the way for them to eventually displace OEM-branded assistants in-vehicle altogether and be the sole voice assistant in the vehicle, extending their brand and providing access to new in-vehicle data,” adds Patel 

“Much will be dependent on what the OEMs and market incumbents, such as Nuance, can offer. However, over the short- to medium-term at least, consumers are likely to see an increasing number of vehicles that feature Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, even if it is sitting alongside an OEM branded assistant.”

These findings are from ABI Research’s Next-Generation Infotainment technology analysis report. 

This report is part of the company’s smart mobility and automotive research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights.