BMW will use Amazon Alexa to build its next voice assistant

Amazon Alexa will be the foundation of BMW’s next-generation voice assistant, the companies announced Wednesday at Amazon’s annual Devices and Services launch event.

The German automaker and Amazon have had a business relationship for years now; BMW started offering the Alexa assistant in select cars starting in 2018 and the partnership has grown from there.

This announcement stands out, however. BMW won’t just embed Alexa into vehicles as it has in the past. It will use the Amazon technology to build its own assistant. The first vehicles with the new generation of BMW’s voice assistant will launch within the next two years.

The idea, if executed well, will give BMW access to Amazon tech and allow it to focus on creating specific automotive features.

Stephan Durach, senior VP of the connected company and development technical operations at BMW Group, said this approach will bring the digital experience to an entirely new level.

It also shows how Amazon is attempting to capture more marketshare within the automotive industry, which Dave Limp, senior VP of devices and services at Amazon, hinted at in his remarks.

“This cooperation with BMW is a great example of what Alexa Custom Assistant was designed for — to make it faster and easier for companies to develop custom intelligent assistants for virtually any device, without the cost and complexity of building from the ground up,” Limp said.

In other words, Amazon sees this as the next step in its plan to dominate — or at least try to — the experience in the car. Amazon also introduced the second-generation of Echo Auto, a more compact device with new features that aim to broaden the e-commerce giant’s reach by bringing its Alexa voice assistant into more vehicles.

Notably, customers will still be able choose to use either the BMW voice assistant, Alexa individually, or have both assistants work alongside each other.