Alexa has become almost like a member of many people’s families. The personal-assistant, web-based service from Amazon has become integrated into our daily home lives.
Ford just announced a partnership with Amazon to provide Alexa services to many of their vehicles. We already reported on Ford’s over-the-air (OTA) updates in the Mustang Mach-E and Ford F-150, but now it has an official name.
Ford’s wireless software update technology is called Ford Power-Up. The first Ford Power-Up software updates for F-150 and Mustang Mach-E customers in North America began in March, accelerating a transformation well underway with more than 6 million vehicles on the road today featuring advanced, embedded modem connectivity. New vehicles equipped with Ford Power-Up capability identify customer preferences and vehicle issues, which Ford engineers then translate into quality and capability improvements delivered through Ford Power-Up enhancements.
“Software updates are common across billions of connected devices but not yet for vehicles. Ford Power-Up software updates will change that by quickly bringing it to millions of people,” says Alex Purdy, director, business operations, enterprise connectivity, Ford Motor Company. “We’ve invested in more seamless technology so updates can happen while you’re sleeping – making your next ride a better experience.”
Related story: Ford introduces hands-free driving program called Blue Cruise.
Amazon and Ford Partnership Details
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.
As part of a new strategic engagement between Amazon and Ford, the companies plan to work together to deliver enhanced features and new commercial services over the next six years. 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.
“We’re excited to work with Amazon to bring powerful new AI-enabled experiences to Ford customers,” says Purdy. “We believe in the power of teaming up with other innovators. 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.”
Ford Power-Up Works With Sync 4 System
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.
This is why it was especially disappointing for the 2021 Bronco Sport to have Sync 3 and not the latest version. As such, the popular Bronco Sport won’t have initial access to this.
Related story: Official review of 2021 Ford Bronco Sport.
“Democratizing technology and putting it within reach of millions of customers has been a part of Ford’s DNA dating back to the Model T, and our new collaboration is a continuation of that legacy,” says Ned Curic, vice president, Alexa Automotive. “We can’t wait for Ford customers to experience the best of what Alexa and voice AI can do while on the road – including new features and capabilities that will be delivered seamlessly through future over-the-air software updates. We love the vote of confidence from Ford to deepen our work together and continue making the driving experience more connected, entertaining, and productive.”
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. More information about how customers can set up an Alexa account will be shared closer to launch.
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 provide the convenience of hands-free, voice-initiated interactions – minimizing 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 interact with their vehicles naturally and say things like, “Alexa, find the closest gas station” or “Alexa, play my road trip playlist” or “Alexa, call Mom.”
Ford customers will be able to access the benefits of Amazon’s world-class voice AI and intelligent features both inside and outside their vehicle. Combined with the FordPass skill for Alexa3 – which customers can continue to use to control vehicle functions such as start/stop engine, lock and unlock doors, check vehicle range or tire pressure all from the comfort of their home – Ford is bringing smart homes and connected vehicles closer together.
Final Thoughts on Ford Power-Up
I’m a new car technology fan. I want as much tech in a vehicle as I can get. I realize not everyone feels the same way and I’m anticipating hearing the “old timers” say, “that’s just more that can go wrong with a vehicle.” I suppose technically you’re right, but today’s vehicles are loaded with computers and technology, so why not take full advantage of them.
Combining two legendary companies like Ford and Amazon makes a lot of sense.
What do you think about this? Is this appealing? Leave me your comment below.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.