Ford is adding 'hands-free' Alexa to new cars with an OTA update

2021 models will come with complimentary access to the digital assistant for three years.


Since 2017, Ford vehicles have come with access to Alexa, but actually using Amazon's voice-activated assistant in your car has involved meeting some specific requirements. To start, you needed a vehicle that was compatible with at least the company's Sync 3 infotainment system. Additionally, you had to install Ford's AppLink software on your phone. Those weren't deal-breakers by any means, but the latter one especially meant the experience of using Alexa in your car was never as seamless as an Echo speaker. But that's about to change.

Starting this fall, Ford will begin rolling out an improved implementation of Alexa to Sync 4-equipped cars in the US and Canada. Once Ford releases the update through its Power-Up program, you won't need the company's AppLink software to access Alexa in your car anymore. Ford says this new version of Alexa in its cars is "friction and hands-free." Without pressing any button, you can ask Alexa to point you to the nearest gas station, play music or provide you with a traffic update. As before, with the FordPass skill, you can also ask the voice assistant to do things like start and stop your car, as well as lock and unlock the doors.

Ford Alexa built-in

The company's initial rollout will involve approximately 700,000 vehicles in North America, with more cars in Europe and other parts of the world to follow later. Bronco, Edge, F-150, Mustang Mach-E and Super Duty models will get first access to the new Alexa experience. So what's the catch, you ask. Well, it's that you're getting access to this better experience as part of a three-year trial that starts after you install the associated Power-Up OTA update or the warranty on your new 2022 model car begins. After those three years, "fees may apply." You'll also need FordPass Connect, which is an optional add-on you may have not bought with your car.

Today's announcement is the start of a new six-year partnership between Amazon and Ford that will see the two companies develop new features and Alexa skills. Over the next few years, Ford plans to roll out this new built-in version of Alexa to millions of its cars.