People don’t just drive their cars. They talk to them. And they listen to them. And the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show has offered some compelling reminders as the automobile evolves into a utility for managing everyday tasks and enjoying entertainment such as music. A few examples stand out:
Amazon Alexa Everywhere
Toyota announced that it will add the Amazon voice assistant Alexa to select Lexus and Toyota vehicles in 2018. (The integration will occur through the Toyota Entune 3.0 and Lexus Enform 2.0 infotainment systems.) In addition, Toyota will integrate Alexa into more models in 2019.
In the Toyota announcement, John Scumniotales, head of product for Amazon Alexa Automotive, said, “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.”[i]
Indeed, the idea behind a voice assistant such as Alexa is to empower drivers to use their voices to accomplish tasks while they are driving, such as asking for directions, listening to the news, adjusting the heat in one’s home, or connecting with music apps.
The announcement is a sign of Amazon Alexa’s rising popularity. The Alexa-powered Echo smart speaker already dominates 75 percent of the smart speaker market,[ii] which is significant because as people become more comfortable using Alexa in their homes, they are more likely to use Alexa in other areas of their lives such as driving their cars. Indeed, at the 2017 CES, BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen announced the integration of Alexa into their vehicles, getting a one-year head start on Toyota.[iii]
Music, Sweet Music
Meanwhile, Ford announced a new, high-end audio system coming to Ford models at an unspecified date. As reported in Variety, Ford demonstrated its new system in a Lincoln Continental, befitting the premium nature of the high-fidelity sound that Ford is touting.[iv]
At a time when the future of the automotive industry includes radical changes such as autonomous vehicles, the Ford announcement is a reminder that OEMs can make driving more fun and immersive by adapting vehicles in the here and now. At CES, Ford reeled off a few interesting statistics:
- The car is the place where the largest percentage of people listen to music, including roughly seven out of 10 people between the ages of 13 and 24 and nearly 8 out of 10 drivers over the age of 45.[v]
- About 44 percent of consumers connect a device to their car’s sound system to listen to music (the radio still dominates).[vi]
- Nearly half of consumers surveyed indicate that they would pay more money for higher-quality audio; about 33 percent say they’re willing to pay more to access better quality audio.[vii]
CES underscores the role that a dealership’s salespeople can play as personal consultants and concierges to create deeper connections with automotive shoppers. Two keys are:
- Understanding what the shopper wants and guiding them accordingly. If a shopper cares about high-end audio, do you possess the requisite knowledge to counsel them even if you need to recommend an after-market solution?
- Being willing to suggest features that a shopper might not know about but might be interested in based on what you know about them. For instance, a shopper who places a high premium on managing a busy schedule while driving might want to learn more about an Alexa-powered vehicle.
CES 2018 will continue to be a source of news about innovations in automotive. Watch GrowWithCars to stay on top of industry developments. We’re here to be your growth partner.
[i] Toyota, “Toyota to Introduce Amazon Alexa in its Vehicles,” January 9, 2018.
[ii] Wall Street Journal, “Amazon Echo Prices Turn Smart-Speaker Market On Its Ear,” December 18, 2017.
[iii] Digital Trends, “Is there an Echo in here? Toyota, Lexus add Amazon Alexa to select 2018 vehicles,” January 9, 2018.
[iv] Variety, “Ford Unveils Hi-Res Audio for Cars at CES 2018,” January 9, 2018.
[v] Variety, “Ford Unveils Hi-Res Audio for Cars at CES 2018,” January 9, 2018.
[vi] Variety, “Ford Unveils Hi-Res Audio for Cars at CES 2018,” January 9, 2018.
[vii] Billboard, “Lincoln Motors Embraces Hi-Res Audio at CES 2018,” January 9, 2018.