Toyota Is Offering Retrofits for Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa Connectivity in Select 2018 Models


2018 Toyota Sienna; Image Credit: Chris Doane of Car and Driver Automotive

On Friday Toyota announced it is offering retrofits for Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa connectivity for the 2018 Camry sedan and the 2018 Sienna minivan. Toyota will notify Camry and Sienna owners and encourage them to contact their dealer about the retrofit. The installation needs to be done at dealerships, but there is no word as to how long it would take, or about the price of the retrofit. A Toyota spokesperson told Car and Dealer that there “may be a small service charge.”

Toyota Chose Older Models Because It Wants to Reach People Already on the Road

The 2019 Avalon was the first Toyota model to get CarPlay and Alexa connectivity, and at the time of the announcement, Toyota said that it would offer the services on other 2019 models and in most of its 2020 models. There was never any mention of older models, which is why this announcement is newsworthy. Steve Barsa, Toyota VP for Connected Technologies told Forbes,

We are always striving to bring highly desirables services to our vehicles. This new program enables CarPlay and Amazon Alexa to some of our most popular models already on the road.

Toyota is one of the last automakers to offer Apple CarPlay compatibility but is one of the first to offer Amazon Alexa. BMW and Mini began offering Alexa connectivity in mid-2018. The 2017 Ford Fusion Energi offered limited Alexa capability. At CES 2017, Volkswagen announced it was bringing Alexa to much of its lineup in the next several years. Mazda made an even bigger leap with older vehicles than Toyota, though, offering to retrofit 2014 or newer models with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in November 2018.

With Voice Use In-Car More Prevalent than on Smart Speakers, Toyota is Making a Smart Move

The Voicebot 2019 In-Car Voice Consumer Adoption Report found that nearly twice as many U.S. adults have used a voice assistant in the car than through a smart speaker. In-car use is at 114 million and smart speaker use is at about 66 million. The monthly active voice assistant usage rate is actually higher for car owners than for smartphone users. Not only is in-car voice assistant usage high, but there is also room for growth. Half of car owners claim to have used a voice assistant in the car and 67.5% of those use them monthly. Both factors show a significant opportunity to grow the user base and frequency of use. Toyota recognizes this opportunity and is capitalizing on it.

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