Jeep announced last week that it is launching a new Alexa skill and it is offering Amazon Echo Dots along with streaming music and audio books subscriptions to buyers of the 2018 Cherokee Latitude. Cars.com reported:
Staring in November, Jeep will offer the Tech Connect Package on the Cherokee’s base trim, called Latitude. Including destination, a model thus equipped will start at $27,285 with front-wheel drive or $28,785 with all-wheel drive, up $1,795 over the base Latitude. The subscriptions amount to three months of music streaming through Amazon’s Music Unlimited Family Plan and audiobook streaming through Amazon subsidiary Audible.
Apparently, Cherokee owners will be able to use the Alexa skill even if they don’t purchase the Tech Connect package. They will just need to buy their own Echo Dot.
Siri in the Dash, Alexa in your Home
The Tech Connect package is based on Uconnect, a “navigation, entertainment and communication system.” Uconnect has other features beyond Alexa which is good because the $11o value for the three-month subscriptions and Echo Dot doesn’t quite match the optional package price. One feature that caught our eye was Siri Eyes Free voice interaction.
This brings up an important distinction when considering the type of commitment car companies are making to particular voice assistants. A telematics integration with an Alexa skill typically offers the ability to unlock the doors, check the fuel level, set climate controls or start the car remotely. An in-car integration means users can access the voice assistant while driving. For Jeep, Siri is that in-car integration today while Alexa is relegated to tertiary features.
Will Siri Capitalize on an In-Dash Position?
Nissan last week announced a telematics integration while BMW in September committed to in-car integration in 2018. BMW will join SEAT and Ford as the three automakers with an Alexa in-car integration. Keep in mind that the vast majority of automakers are focused on telematics integration only. This may be driven by the interdependencies associated with bringing a new technology into the dashboard or earlier commitments made to companies like Apple and Google.
Regardless, don’t assume a new car model announcement about Alexa integration means drivers will immediately be able to access skills while on-the-go. Many of these programs are simply marketing promotions with no long-term platform commitment. The real story to watch is when more cars start offering Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri in the dashboard. Right now, Siri has an advantage in the car. Will Apple be able to hold its ground?