Amazon and Ford Motor Co. plan to work together to deliver enhanced features and new commercial services over the next six years as part of a new strategic engagement.
Ford is prepping what’s planned to be the industry’s broadest rollout of the embedded Alexa hands-free experience to date, with complimentary connectivity to Alexa for up to three years.
This year alone, the same type of Alexa voice command functionality many people have in their homes will be wired to 700,000 Ford vehicles in the U.S. and Canada, followed by millions more over the next few years, according to the automaker.
This includes exploring the development of the first custom Alexa skills for Ford commercial vehicles, using the power of Alexa artificial intelligence to help business owners and fleet managers stay in touch with their teams and increase productivity.
Ford customers will be able to access the benefits of Amazon’s voice AI and intelligent features both inside and outside their vehicle.
Inside their vehicle, Ford customers can ask Alexa to control smart home devices, place calls, locate parking and more. Alexa capabilities delivered through SYNC 4 Technology minimize the need for drivers to view or touch screens and helping them keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Customers can say things like, “Alexa, find the closest gas station” or “Alexa, play my road trip playlist” or “Alexa, call Mom.”
Ford believes in the power of teaming with other innovators, says Alex Purdy, director, business operations, enterprise connectivity, Ford.
“Bringing Ford’s vehicle know-how together with Amazon’s technology expertise will deliver in-vehicle capabilities that help our retail customers travel more enjoyably and with ease, while helping our commercial customers operate more profitably,” Purdy says in a release.
Ford routinely delivers new features and improvements through its wireless software update technology called Ford Power-Up. Over the last two months, 2021 F-150 and Mustang Mach-E customers have begun receiving Ford Power-Up enhancements. Mustang Mach-E customers in North America and Europe soon will receive Sketch -- also referred to as Notes in vehicle menus – for touchscreen drawing and simple gaming.
Alexa will initially be delivered through Ford Power-Up software updates beginning this fall for Bronco, Edge, F-150, Mustang Mach-E and Super Duty customers with SYNC 4 Technology in the U.S. and Canada, with other regions to follow.
The support of Alexa on SYNC 4 represents the latest collaboration between Ford and Amazon. Ford first brought Alexa into its vehicles in 2017, starting with connected vehicle skills and then adding in-vehicle capabilities through the SYNC AppLink smartphone app, which is still available but no longer required for the new, more seamless capability.