Amazon Launches In-Car Alexa With Panasonic

Alexa Onboard will combine Amazon's voice recognition technology with Panasonic's in-vehicle infotainment system.
Matthew HellerJanuary 9, 2018

Amazon is revving up its voice activation system for cars,  announcing a partnership that will integrate its Alexa device into Panasonic’s in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system.

At the CES trade show, Amazon on Monday introduced Alexa Onboard, offering in-car users the opportunity to control everything from navigation to music streaming through voice commands.

Panasonic is the first company with which Amazon has partnered for Alexa Onboard and the new system also makes certain Alexa capabilities available offline, including changing the temperature in the vehicle, asking what’s coming up on the user’s calendar and controlling the windows.

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“When drivers have access to familiar Alexa contextual commands and responses from inside the car, it opens up a new world of experiences OEMs can offer — enabling some of these capabilities even without an internet connection is revolutionary,” Tom Gebhardt, president of Panasonic of North America, said in a news release.

The Alexa Onboard technology functions with the Panasonic Skip Generation IVI technology announced at CES 2017. According to The Drive, the partnership “marks a departure from Amazon’s previous method of Alexa integration, which has been based on specific auto manufacturers,” including deals with BMW, Ford, Genesis, and Mercedes.

“By partnering with infotainment manufacturers, Amazon can spread its voice recognition technology to numerous auto manufacturers at once,” The Drive said.

Panasonic is the market leader in vehicle infotainment, with an 11.5% market share, according to Strategy Analytics. Another study, by Research and Markets, estimates in-car infotainment will grow into a $30 billion market by 2022.

Alexa Onboard would allow users, among other things, to voice such commands as “Alexa, find the nearest coffee shop” and “Alexa, what’s the news?” to hear daily flash briefings. Commuters could also use Alexa to control their smart home, asking her to heat the home up and turn on the lights on their way back from work.

“This is a big step toward bringing Alexa to customers wherever they might need her, whether they’re at home or on-the-go,” said Ned Curic, vice president of Amazon Alexa Automotive.