In-Car Tech

Blink Roadside skill for Amazon Alexa allows voice-activated roadside help

Drivers can enjoy Alexa by using simple voice commands, all while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.

Photo courtesy of BMW

The first voice-activated Amazon Alexa skill for roadside assistance is now available. The Blink Roadside skill allows Alexa users to get help by uttering common roadside request phrases like, "Alexa, I have a flat tire" or "Alexa, my car won't start". These phrases launch the skill.

Agero, a digital-first vehicle solutions company, created the skill leveraging their extensive network of service partners and digital customer experience. This is the same technology that is used by automobile clubs, manufacturers, and insurance carriers.

The technology services 100 percent of the zip codes in the U.S. This makes Blink Roadside the broadest offered roadside assistance service in the nation.

Chevrolet Amazon Alexa Drivers can use Amazon Alexa for thousands of skills.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The company charges a flat fee for service, which it says saves customers money on services that often can top $100. Payment options for these services are available for Amazon Pay so no additional log-in names or sign-ups are required.

The Blink Roadside skill isn't confined for used in the vehicle. It's availble on all Alexa-enabled devices. According to the company, when initiated, the Blink Roadside skill "will offer to connect customers with highly-trained Agero representatives and a comprehensive digital service experience, including status update notifications and links to live service truck tracking delivered to customers via text message."

Customers will need to grant the skill permission to use real-time location information of their Alexa device.

Some of the skill activation phrases include:

  • "Alexa, I have a flat tire"
  • "Alexa, I need someone to jumpstart my car"
  • "Alexa, my car ran out of gas"
  • "Alexa, I need roadside assistance for my car"
  • "Alexa, my car won't start"
  • "Alexa, my car is broken down"

"Our goal at Agero is to make it easy for motorists to get help when they have a breakdown," said Raj Behara, vice president of engineering and chief technology officer, Agero. "Working with Amazon to create this innovative, out-of-the-box assistance capability for Alexa is a reflection of that mission, and part of our ongoing commitment to digitally transform and dramatically simplify the roadside experience for drivers."

Agero currently protects more than 115 million vehicles, servicing approximately 12 million annual breakdown and accident events – that's nearly 1,400 events an hour. Agero's roadside services are available to drivers of two-thirds of new passenger vehicles, two-thirds of the top auto insurance carriers, and many others.

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Larger tires headline the upgrades.

Jeep

The off-road wars are heating up. This year alone, we've seen the new Ford Bronco, Rivian's R1T electric pickup truck, new off-road models of the Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, and Chevrolet Silverado, and more rugged versions of the Subaru Outback and Forester. Jeep, already deep in the game, doesn't need to do much to bolster its off-road offering, but the brand is doing just that for 2022. The automaker is offering a new Xtreme Recon Package for the Wrangler Willys SUV, which brings more capability and style to the boxy off-roader.

Jeep Wrangler Willys Xtreme Recon Package The package can be ordered for Wrangler Willys models later this year. Jeep Wrangler Willys Xtreme Recon Package

Beyond beefy 35-inch tires tires, the Wrangler Willys with Xtreme Recon Package gets a 1.5-inch factory lift, a 4.56:1 axle ratio, 17-inch wheels and swing gate reinforcement. Jeep says those improvements give the Willys best-in-class approach and departure angles, ground clearance, and water fording capability. Approach angle improves to 47.4 degrees, breakover angle improves to 26.7 degrees, and departure angle jumps to 40.4 degrees. The extra ride height also pushes ground clearance to 12.9 inches and the water fording depth to 33.6 inches.

The package's 35-inch tires make the Willys Jeep's third Wrangler model with hardcore rolling stock. It joins the Wrangler Rubicon and Wrangler Rubicon 392 in the 35-inch club, all of which can be equipped with the tires directly from the factory.

Jeep Wrangler Willys Xtreme Recon Package A factory lift helps improve ground clearance and capability.Jeep

The Xtreme Recon Package can be ordered starting in October and will be available for the Jeep Wrangler Willys with 3.6-liter eTorque engine. The package adds $3,995 to the Wrangler Willys' price tag, which brings the total starting price to $40,930, including a $1,495 destination charge.

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New sports sedan

2022 Infiniti Q50 gets more standard tech

The car sees new tech and interior features for 2022.

Infiniti

The Infiniti Q50 is an aging but still-stylish sedan that offers value and power, but it hasn't quite kept pace with the crop of more engaging premium European cars. However, it's still worth a look, and to press that point further, Infiniti has updated the car for 2022 with a healthy list of standard features.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Exterior styling has not changed for 2022.Infiniti

Headline updates for the 2022 Q50 are wireless Apple CarPlay and newly standard Bose Performance Series Audio. There's now leather for every trim, but in the ways that count, the car is the same as the one we saw last year, the year before, and so on.

That's not to say that the car is bad. After all, it still offers a 300-horsepower twin-turbo V6 as standard and can be upgraded with a 400-horsepower version of the engine. And, despite its aging exterior styling, it's still a handsome car with smooth, sculpted bodywork. The seven-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive remain in place.

2022 Infiniti Q50 All-wheel drive is available for all models.Infiniti

Pricing for the 2022 Infiniti Q50 starts at $43,125, which includes a $1,025 destination fee. The car gets standard wireless Apple CarPlay, leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and Bose Performance Audio. All-wheel drive is available for a $2,000 upcharge.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Wireless Apple CarPlay and Bose audio are standard.Infiniti

The mid-range Q50 Sensory starts at $48,825, and comes with 19-inch wheels, black open-pore wood interior accents, navigation, and an air purifier system. Stepping up to the top Q50 Red Sport 400 will run $56,975, and brings the more powerful V6 engine, semi-aniline leather upholstery, and Dynamic Digital Suspension, which adjusts damping settings depending on road conditions and driving style.

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