Amazon Pumping Echo Auto

As part of its Prime Day event, Amazon has slashed the price of its dashboard voice assistant, Echo Auto, to $15, and the company is throwing in six months of Amazon Prime Music Unlimited. The price cut represents a substantial 70% savings for any consumers who are looking to take Alexa on the road with them and it could help convert some Amazon music listeners to the Unlimited plan.

While it’s possible that Amazon may be seeking to position Alexa as a viable voice assistant option for the car, a hefty price cut could just as easily signal that the company may not be focusing on the auto opportunity for the long term. Those who have Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant at home have become accustomed to the convenience, and many car owners now rely on Apple or Google’s options preinstalled in modern vehicles.

Where Amazon could have an advantage is among those with older model cars that do not offer hands-free voice capabilities and Bluetooth support for smartphones — Echo Auto could be a strong alternative for this group. Amazon faces a tough battle, however, with most car owners utilizing their smartphone for hands-free calling and navigation.

“Despite Alexa’s significant market share for in-home devices, the car remains a trickier battle, as Amazon must sell an add-on device that awkwardly affixes itself to an air vent,” commented Stuart Sikes, Senior VP at Interpret. “The smartphone, on the other hand, will be in the car regardless – creating a tough competitor for a company that is not in the smartphone business.”

For big tech, the good news is that there’s still a strong desire for travel-related voice assistants. During the pandemic, the number of people using their voice assistant at home for driving directions only dipped slightly, from 24% to 22% of smart speaker owners. On the other hand, people using voice assistants to find travel-related information, including booking airline tickets and hotels, recovered from a mid-Covid low of 9% to a late year level of 14%.