Why it matters to you
Amazon Alexa could be the next big thing in in-car tech, bridging the gap between connected cars and connected homes.
Amazon Alexa is slowly invading the car world. At CES 2017, both Ford and Volkswagen discussed Alexa connectivity, and more recently BMW announced that it would integrate Amazon’s virtual assistant with its 2018 models, as well as models from its Mini brand. But that’s not all.
Nissan is jumping on the Alexa bandwagon. The Japanese automaker will launch an Alexa “skill” later this month for certain models that will allow owners to control vehicle functions remotely. Called “NissanConnect Services,” it will be available free of charge to Nissan owners as one of more than 25,000 options in the Amazon Skills Store.
Owners with a compatible Nissan must link Alexa to a Nissan-specific owner account. Once that’s done, they can use voice commands to remotely lock or unlock car doors, honk the horn, flash the lights, or start or shut off the engine, depending on the model. Some commands, like remote engine starts, require a four-digit PIN for security reasons.
Connected owners can use commands like “Alexa, ask NissanConnect Services to start my Murano,” or “Alexa, ask NissanConnect Services to lock the doors of my GT-R,” a Nissan press release explained. That’s a bit of a mouthful, but the ability to recite these commands from one’s couch instead of getting up and walking to the car will presumably make it worthwhile for sedentary Nissan owners.
Alexa connectivity will be available on certain 2016, 2017, 2017.5, and 2018 models equipped with the NissanConnect Services telematics service. Vehicles getting Alexa at launch include the Altima (2016-2017.5 model year), Armada (2018), GT-R (2017), Maxima (2016-17), Murano (2016, 2017.5), Pathfinder (2017-18), Rogue (2016-17), Rogue Sport (2017), Sentra (2016-17), Titan (2017), and Titan XD (2016-17).
The 2018 Nissan Leaf electric car will also get Alexa connectivity when it launches, and Nissan will add electric car-specific features for current-generation Leaf owners. They will be able to remotely monitor battery status and charging, as well as manipulate the climate control to warm up or cool down the car ahead of driving.
Nissan’s Alexa integration will be limited to remote vehicle controls, but another automaker recently announced a more extensive Alexa tie-in. BMW plans to integrate the voice assistant with its infotainment systems, displaying Alexa graphics on dashboard screens, and letting cars fetch weather information and news, just like Amazon Echo speakers.