Volkswagen is Building Amazon Alexa into New Golf Model
Volkswagen announced that the upcoming version of its Golf model car will have the Amazon Alexa voice assistant built-in. The news marks another success for Amazon’s efforts to bring Alexa into more cars and encourage people to use it wherever they go.
First Volkswagen for Alexa
The new Golf, which is scheduled to arrive in December, will be the first Volkswagen car to offer Alexa as a standard feature. To use Alexa, drivers have to enroll in Volkswagen’s We Connect program. The car and its extra features will only be available in Europe at first.
Drivers will be able to use the voice assistant for all of the usual information and entertainment features within the car, including music, news, and navigation services. All of Alexa’s skills will be available as though the car were an Amazon Echo smart speaker. If they own any Alexa-powered smart home devices, owners will also be able to manage them from the car, meaning they can turn on lights before they get home or make sure that doors are locked, for example.
The new Golf is generally full of technology, including improved voice tech. According to Volkswagen, the car’s own voice control system now understands more natural, conversational language and doesn’t need precisely worded commands to function. The car also includes a mobile key that can be duplicated to share, a heads-up display, and Car 2X, a system that allows the car to identify nearby traffic situations and even exchange information with other cars.
Volkswagen is the second carmaker to plan a full integration of Alexa. General Motors announced last month that many of its upcoming models will fully integrate the voice assistant. Before the new models, connecting to Alexa in a car required either a third-party device connecting a smartphone with the Alexa app to the car or using the car’s own voice assistant in tandem with Alexa.
The new version of Alexa Auto SDK that makes such integration possible only came out in September, so Volkswagen was still quite fast off the mark. It’s the new SDK that allows for Alexa to operate without connecting to the cloud all of the time, an important feature for a car that may travel where there is little or no internet connectivity.
Golf drivers won’t have to only use Alexa, as the car will also offer Apple CarPlay as an option, meaning drivers can talk to Siri too. Integrating Alexa directly into the car could give Amazon a leg up on Apple, however. Amazon commissioned a J.D. Power study in early 2019 which found that three-fifths of consumers don’t want to switch voice assistants between their homes and their cars. Amazon’s push to be the default voice assistant in the home could translate to people choosing Alexa in the car as well, especially when it’s the default setup.