Alexa for EV charging
Amazon is betting that Alexa, its voice-activated virtual assistant, can help ease one of electric vehicle drivers’ biggest worries: finding a charging station while on the road.
At CES on Thursday, Amazon announced a new collaboration with EVGo, one of the largest U.S. charging networks, that will soon allow Alexa to navigate EV drivers to public charging spots and pay for the service.
Alexa will draw on data from EVGo’s PlugShare community to help guide EV drivers to nearby charging stations. If the driver chooses an EVGo station, Alexa will be able to initiate and pay for the charge with simple voice commands. Amazon expects the new feature to be available later this year.
“The EV charging experience is a lot more fragmented than for gas customers, who can pretty much stop at any location,” said Anes Hodžić, vice president at Amazon’s Smart Vehicles group.
While Tesla owners can rely on the company’s proprietary “Supercharger” network, drivers of non-Tesla EVs are confronted with a mishmash of competing charging networks, chargers that may not be well maintained, and apps that provide incomplete — and sometimes outdated — information.
Unlike the traditional stop for gas, EV drivers must factor in charging speed, plug type and payment options, Hodžić said, all while using several different apps to find charging stations, and as their vehicle’s range may be dwindling.
“We want Alexa to be useful for customers in their everyday lives, and EV charging is a great example of a task that can be simplified and made more convenient through the power of AI,” Hodžić said.