Is there an Echo in here? Toyota, Lexus add Amazon Alexa to select 2018 vehicles

2018 Toyota Highlander SE Amazon Alexa

At CES last year, Amazon Alexa was everywhere. The intelligent personal assistant was integrated into everything from cars, smartwatches, and even air purifiers at the show. But as it turns out, CES 2017 was just the tip of the digital iceberg.

At CES 2018, Toyota announced that it will add Alexa into select Toyota and Lexus vehicles this year, with more coming in 2019. The assistant will be assimilated into the brand’s Toyota Entune 3.0 and Lexus Enform 2.0 infotainment systems, allowing drivers to ask for directions, control media, get the latest news, shop, or connect with more than a thousand third-party apps through voice controls. They can even interface with their smart home from behind the wheel. Toyota isn’t the only carmaker to bring Alexa into its stable, as BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen did the same at last year’s event.

“Voice services are rapidly becoming more popular, and through our integration with Amazon Alexa, Toyota and Lexus customers will soon be able to easily speak to Alexa in their cars while on-the-go,” said Zack Hicks, senior vice president and chief information officer of Toyota Motor North America.

“We’re thrilled that Toyota and Lexus will bring Alexa to customers on the road,” said John Scumniotales, head of product for Amazon Alexa Automotive. “Our vision for Alexa is that she should be everywhere a customer might need her – at home, in the office, on phones – and in cars. This integration means that customers can interact with Alexa, virtually anywhere they drive.”

As expected, Toyota has been busy at CES. On Monday, January 8, the brand debuted the e-Palette concept, which is more of a mobility solution than a traditional car. Designed for ridesharing, freight transportation, and even food delivery, the autonomous-capable e-Palette is appropriately boxy, with a reconfigurable cabin that’s just as suited for mobile meetings as it is for an office-wide pizza party. Toyota is currently assembling a diverse group of companies — including Amazon, Pizza Hut, Uber, Mazda, and DiDi Chuxing — to form the e-Palette Alliance, a unique union that the automaker hopes will blend ridesharing with other businesses in the future.

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