"Alexa, start my car."
Owners of new Mercedes-Benz vehicles can now remotely turn on the engine by issuing the above command. The luxury vehicle maker just launched a new service that allows customers with 2016 and 2017 models to communicate with their cars using Google Home or Amazon Echo.
In addition to remotely starting their vehicles, U.S. customers can activate various functions via voice commands; the service will be available in Europe later this year. For instance, by instructing Alexa to "ask Mercedes to send an address to the car," drivers will receive navigation input and point-of-interest requests.
"We want to offer our customers a broad range of services 24/7, not just when they are in our cars," said Nils Schanz, head of Internet of Things and Wearable Integration at the company's Silicon Valley-based research arm. "Mercedes-Benz's goal is creating an intelligent ecosystem around cars, and developing cutting-edge technology to make everyday life more convenient for our customers."
There are a few prerequisites: Drivers will need an active "Mercedes me" account and get an "mbrace" subscription, which provides access to connected car services. They'll also need to own a Google Home or Amazon Echo home automation device.
Mercedes' announcement follows the launch of similar services by automakers such as BMW, Ford, and Genesis.
BMW already added Amazon Alexa connectivity to its vehicles as part of a larger rollout for its new cloud service, BMW Connected, while Genesis announced in August that it had partnered with Amazon to let owners of its Genesis G80 and G90 start and control their cars remotely.
Meanwhile, back in January 2016, Ford announced a partnership with Amazon that not only allows drivers to talk to their cars through Amazon Echo, but also enables them to control connected devices in their homes while on the road. For instance, drivers can talk to their homes' Nest thermostats and adjust the temperature, turn on the lights, and open the garage door all before they even pull into the driveway.