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Volkswagen Offers a Ride With a Familiar Voice Alongside

Volkswagen and a major tech partner are getting together to put a new spin on the test drive.
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The test drive has probably been a part of the automotive experience since the day Henry Ford jumped behind the wheel of his Quadricycle and went for a ride down Grand River Avenue in Detroit.

Of course, Ford didn't have a salesperson sitting next to him at the time, seeing as there were no car dealerships back in 1896.

Things changed quickly and the ride with the salesperson became a staple of the car-buying experience. 

Consumer advocates strongly advise motorists to take this step before making the sales final, and the internet abounds with tips on how to get the most out of a test drive.

These days virtual reality enables motorists to test-drive a car with a VR headset.

And now Volkswagen  (VWAGY)  and Amazon  (AMZN)  are getting together to give the test drive a modern twist.

Just Ask

The automaker is offering customers in select regions the ability to schedule an in-person test drive of Volkswagen's electric ID.4 SUV guided by Alexa, the retail giant's voice-controlled virtual assistant.

"Future Volkswagen owners can experience all our ID.4 has to offer with the aid of a voice service they’ve already come to know,” Andrew Savvas, chief sales and marketing officer at Volkswagen Group of America, said in a statement.

After a brief walkaround with a Volkswagen product specialist, participants will hit the road on a real-world test drive with Alexa as their companion.

The Alexa-guided test drive is enabled through an Echo Auto device on the vehicle’s dashboard. Participants will be able to ask Alexa for more information on the vehicle's various functions.

Got a question about the car’s available massaging seats?

Ask Alexa and she'll tell you that the seat massage function is available in the front seats of the I.D.4 Pro S and Pro S with Gradient.

Want to give it a try? Just ask "Alexa, how do I turn on the massage feature?"

Take a Ride With Alexa

Alexa is able to share information about the ID.4’s features, including its battery, charging, blind-spot monitor, connecting to infotainment, cost, regular maintenance.

The test drives last about 30 minutes, but Volkswagen is advising customers to allow about 45 minutes for the whole experience.

Volkswagen and Amazon Ads created a landing page where customers can sign up for a test drive with Alexa and configure their own ID.4.

Launched last year, the ID.4 is Volkswagen Group’s most popular all-electric model.

In July, Volkswagen of America marked the start of production of the vehicle in Chattanooga, Tenn., making it the company’s first EV assembled in the U.S. 

The automaker is looking to build 90,000 electric vehicles at the facility next year.

Alexa's roots go back to 2013 when Amazon acquired Ivona Software, a Polish voice-technology specialist. Alexa was inspired by the computer voice and conversational system found on "Star Trek"'s Starship Enterprise.