Okay, it’s not as easy as that. But Kia has released the Niro skill for Amazon Alexa, which gives you access to information about the new Kia Niro crossover vehicle. It will also check inventory at local dealerships to make buying a new Niro that much easier. Or at least that much more voice activated, since you can get the same information with a few keystrokes or taps on any other device.
Other automakers are connecting their cars to home command centers. Hyundai (which is kind-of, sort-of related to Kia) was the first manufacturer to create a skill for Amazon Alexa using its Blue Link system. Any Hyundai with Blue Link, even if it’s not brand-new off the showroom floor, can connect to Alexa, and owners can control the car’s functions from the inside house. Cold morning? Start the engine and run the heater. In a hurry? Unlock the doors as you rush out the door. The commands are sent to the car once you verify your Blue Link PIN. Since that announcement in November 2016, Hyundai has also added Google Home functions to Blue Link.
Mercedes-Benz also announced this spring that all of its 2016 and 2017 vehicles can connect to both Amazon Echo and Google Home. It’ll also connect with Nest devices, so you can make your car the right temperature from your home and your home the right temperature from your car. You can also send directions or points of interest, like the nearest coffee shop, to the car’s navigation system.
The benefits in convenience, warm cars, and the ability to check on an EV‘s state of charge just by calling out to a device are obvious. But it does raise a few questions, like is this yet another potential point for a data security breach? Does my privacy agreement with the auto manufacturer carry over to my smart home devices? Will Amazon someday flash ads in my center console or — worse — on my kids’ screens in the back seat? Google owns Nest; how much do I want one company to know about me, anyway?
Any technology comes with trade-offs; it’s up to you and me and our culture at large to decide which trade-offs are worth it.