Amazon Alexa Arrives on the Other Side of the Pond and Road as Echo Auto Sales Begin in Ireland and the United Kingdom
Amazon has begun selling the Echo Auto device in the United Kingdom and Ireland. British and Irish drivers can now use the Alexa voice assistant as though it were built into their vehicle for £50 ($62).
Left Side Alexa
Amazon Echo Auto is a small box that plugs into a USB port or 12-volt power outlet. The device enables Alexa to migrate from a smartphone to the vehicle. The Echo Auto includes eight microphones and can use a car’s speakers via an audio jack or Bluetooth connection. Drivers and passengers can then speak with the voice assistant directly, without needing to open up the app on their phone. Alexa can do all of the things it can do on the phone and gains some extra features, such as location-based searches. In an amusing touch, the sale image on Amazon’s UK and Irish website appears to be a literal mirror image of the one used in countries where people drive on the right side of the road.
“Customers tell us they want to take Alexa with them everywhere they go. We’re delighted to offer them an easy way to add Alexa to the car they already own,” Amazon Devices EU vice president Eric Saarnio said in a statement. “With Echo Auto, customers can now enjoy the convenience of Alexa on the road, giving them the ability to play music, make calls, continue their audiobook, play games, manage their reminders and more—all just by using their voice.”
Amazon spent a year beta testing the Echo Auto before it came out in the U.S. this past October. It was a hit right away, with more than one million pre-ordered. Amazon started looking to expand the device’s availability, beginning in January with India. The company hinted at the time that it had more countries lined up for selling the device, but it’s only this month that those rollouts began, first in Australia, and now the UK and Ireland. With the exception of India, all of the countries selling the Echo Auto now primarily speak English, and India’s English speaking population is enormous as well. India may also be an exception because of the rapid rise in vehicles with voice assistants and Alexa’s ability to speak Hindi.
Cars represent a good chance for Amazon to entice people to use Alexa more, especially in countries like the UK and Ireland where Google’s devices are sometimes much more widely used. Until there are more cars built with Alexa, the relatively cheap Echo Auto is a good gateway device for the voice assistant. Now, Amazon just needs to find a car with wings and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang can finally come to life.