In-Car Voice Assistant Adoption is Influencing the Future of Auto Manufacturing
Sep 21, 2021
7 MIN READ

How In-Car Voice Assistant Adoption is Influencing the Future of Auto Manufacturing

In-car voice assistants were one of the first applications of voice AI outside of smart speakers for the home. Leading car manufacturers looking to make driving safer and more enjoyable immediately saw the benefit of investing in custom voice assistants. Those that implemented early are delivering branded, hands-free experiences for their customers that include fast, easy, safe, and hands-free access to navigation, entertainment, information, cabin controls, communication, and more via voice AI technology. 

With the growing popularity of voice assistants, consumers are beginning to expect voice AI technology to be a standard feature when shopping for cars. According to a report by Voicebot.ai, nearly 60% of car buyers in the U.S. want a voice assistant, and about half say it’s a factor in their purchasing decision.

With Statista predicting $71.4 million cars to be sold worldwide in 2021, the majority of auto manufacturers are seriously considering adding a voice-first strategy to their roadmap, if they haven’t already. Brands hoping to keep up with consumer expectations and the competition will need to continually track the rate of consumer adoption, introduction of new use cases, and future trends of in-car voice assistants.

While the first in-car voice assistant was released in 2001 from Dragon Systems UK, it would take about a decade of technological advancement before voice assistants began to saturate the market. More recently, voice assistants have become the standard for exceptional user experiences with the release of in-car voice assistants from SoundHound, Amazon, Google, and Garmin beginning in 2015.

According to a report by Voicebot.ai, in 2021, there were about 127 million users (49% of the U.S. adult population) of voice assistants in the U.S, showing that voice assistant usage has become a popular aspect of interacting with technology. Interest in voice assistants is still on the rise, with 53.8% of consumers in the U.S. expressing interest in voice assistants when shopping for a car, 80.3% of car buyers in the UK, and 85.3% in Germany, according to the same Voicebot.ai study. 

In 2021, there were about 127 million users (49% of U.S. adult population) of voice assistants in the U.S.

Voicebot.ai

Voice assistants have become a preferred amenity that consumers are actively demanding when browsing for their next car. Car manufacturers wishing to stay relevant to consumers should consider the benefits of custom voice experiences built on advanced voice AI technology.

Build, buy, or partner for an in-car voice assistant

With the rising popularity of voice assistants, it’s no longer a question of if car manufactures will have a voice assistant—the question is when and how. In the competitive automotive markets, car companies will not want to lose a sale over the lack of voice AI technology. The question of how to implement the right voice AI experience is still a challenge many auto manufacturers are grappling with as they try to keep up with market leaders, such as Mercedes-Benz. In essence, the question of how comes down to one not so simple choice: build, buy, or partner?

In the competitive automotive markets, car companies will not want to lose a sale over the lack of voice AI technology.


Most car companies don’t want to build their own voice assistant, as it would require developing the technology on their own and then partnering with each content domain provider themselves. While building internally allows companies to customize the voice experience to meet their needs and those of their customers, it takes many years for voice AI experts to develop voice AI technology—time and expertise that most car manufacturers don’t have.

If the OEM decides to partner with a third-party provider (such as Amazon or Google) for an established voice assistant, they lose the ability to customize their experiences and relinquish an opportunity to strengthen their own brands. In addition, they’re not likely to have access to their user data or control over the voice experience. A good example of a car manufacturer that made its brand subordinate to the voice assistant is Buick when they released the “New Alexa” commercial. 

Partnering with an independent voice AI technology requires finding the right third party with the right technology, expertise, and ability to meet your needs and those of your customers. Knowing why you’re embarking on a voice-first strategy is critical to choosing the right platform as you’ll want to buy from a company that understands your business goals and works to help you achieve them. 

Partnering with an independent voice AI technology requires finding the right third party with the right technology, expertise, and ability to meet your needs and those of your customers.


Putting your audiences at the center of your voice assistant strategy is a critical first step to finding the right voice technology platform—one that can help you meet your customer’s unique needs for information and product functionality.

The right voice AI platform provider can begin by helping your organization in the development of voice strategy goals. Using knowledge gained by working with top companies, voice AI experts will help by asking the right questions and guiding your roadmap. 

Choosing a voice AI technology platform with superior technology and a strong roadmap of its own will serve as an insurance policy against future irrelevancy. 

Use cases specific to in-car functionality

One of the first things a car company should consider when embarking on a voice AI journey is whether their in-car voice assistant should be embedded, hybrid, or cloud-connected. Each of these comes with specific types of use cases and unique benefits.

One of the first things a car company should consider when embarking on a voice AI journey is whether their in-car voice assistant should be embedded, hybrid, or cloud-connected.


Embedded functionality can access the popular use case of cabin controls—rolling up and down windows, turning on and off the radio, navigation, turning on and off seat warmers, turning up and down the volume, calling, texting, and other actions that would normally be selected through buttons on the dashboard. With embedded voice AI, drivers and passengers control the cockpit of the car as well as complete a finite number of other tasks quickly, conveniently, and hands-free. 

Solutions that are cloud-only also provide access to in-car functionality, while opening the door to many other experiences, such as accessing playlists on streaming services, finding nearby POIs, purchasing opportunities, searching for information from the web—such as stock prices. Cloud solutions hold the promise of cars becoming part of the IoT. By connecting with smart home technology and giving drivers and passengers the convenience of turning on their home a/c or heater, opening or closing blinds, preheating the oven, or opening the garage door when away from home, our cars become an extension of our homes and a vehicle with greater efficiency and convenience.

Hybrid connectivity options deliver the best of both worlds, giving drivers access to the cloud while still delivering a wide range of functionality and navigation when the cloud is unavailable or the signal is weak. Advancing technology is making it possible for car manufacturers to choose one provider for both the embedded and cloud solutions. Arbitration technology makes those connections faster and more accurate when the signal is sent to the cloud and embedded systems simultaneously and returns the best answer without waiting for a response from the first one and then the other.

The recent Voicebot.ai study has revealed 3 major trends in voice assistant technology for in-car use cases:

  • Services integration
  • Personalization
  • Continuity

Services integration includes aspects such as automated payments, gas station location, and food and drink orders. This could also open the door for monetization and voice commerce opportunities by providing unintrusive ads that are helpful and meaningful for the consumer, such as suggesting a nearby gas station if low on gas or a parking garage when arriving at a destination.

Personalization can take into account the driver’s past search history and preferences to customize an experience that is unique to them. This could help in searching for gas stations and restaurants, curating music or radio stations, and ordering food and drinks. 

Personalization can take into account the driver’s past search history and preferences to customize an experience that is unique to them. 


Continuity allows the driver to pick up where they left off on their last session or transfer what they were doing in a voice-enabled mobile app or other devices to their in-car voice assistant, which opens the door for brands to expand into omnichannel experiences. This also applies to smart home devices where if a driver was adjusting their at-home temperature on their mobile device or listening to music on their voice-enabled TV, they could continue to do so in-car.

By evaluating the adoption, use case, and future trends of in-car voice assistants, car companies will be able to make an informed decision on whether to build, buy, or partner and know what their customers are looking for when purchasing a car. Brands that currently don’t have a voice AI strategy should start seriously considering adding it to their investment plans so they don’t fall behind their competitors.

At SoundHound Inc., we have all the tools and expertise needed to create custom voice assistants and a consistent brand voice. Explore Houndify’s independent voice AI platform at Houndify.com and register for a free account. Want to learn more? Talk to us about how we can help bring your voice strategy to life.

Kristen is a content writer with a passion for storytelling and marketing. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking, reading, and spending time with her nieces and nephew.

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