Rivian announced Monday that its owners will be able to use Alexa voice commands to control key vehicle features—the latest collaboration between the electric automaker and Amazon.
Rivian announced the Alexa integration as it arrives at CES tech conference in Las Vegas this week to show off its R1T pickup. That battery-powered vehicle and its R1S sport utility vehicle sibling will be made at Rivian’s Normal manufacturing plant, starting in late 2020.
Rivian says Alexa will be programmed directly into its vehicles’ connected car system. Owners will be able to ask Alexa to control key features such as HVAC, windows, opening and closing the frunk, and more. They will also be able to access to certain Alexa features when the vehicle is not connected to the internet.
"Rivian's vision is to enable exploration without compromises and provide our owners the best digital experience, no matter where their adventure takes them,” Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said in a statement. “We want this to be the most comprehensive, most seamless Alexa integration in the market.”
Rivian says the Alexa integration will provide “customers with a seamless experience from the home to the car and back again.”
"We've continued to be impressed by the entire team at Rivian, and we're excited to be working together on this upcoming integration," said Ned Curic, vice president of Alexa Auto at Amazon. "By leveraging the newest version of the Alexa Auto SDK (software development kit), Rivian is able to make Alexa a natural part of the driving experience and provide customers with continuous access to key car control features—even in remote locations where reception is poor or nonexistent."
Amazon and Rivian were already in business together. Amazon led a $700 million investment in Rivian in February 2019. (Amazon’s portion was around $440 million.) Seven months later, Amazon announced plans to buy 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, part of the ecommerce giant’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. And in late December Amazon was part of another $1.3 billion investment round in Rivian. Its share of that was not disclosed.
Rivian plans to make all its vehicles at the Normal manufacturing plant, which now has around 250 employees. Rivian has promised to hire at least 1,000 full-time workers in Normal by 2024. That would make it one of McLean County’s largest employers.