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Amazon Alexa coming this year to some Toyota and Lexus cars

The partnership is among a handful of automotive-focused integrations Amazon announced at CES 2018.

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John Scumniotales, of Amazon Alexa Automotive, at Toyota's CES booth on Tuesday.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Toyota said Tuesday that it's bringing Amazon's Alexa voice assistant to select Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the US this year.

"Voice is a simple, natural and safe way to communicate, especially when you're in the car," John Scumniotales, head of product for Amazon Alexa Automotive, said at the Toyota booth at the CES tech show.

Automotive is a new expansion area for Alexa and other voice assistants. The Alexa features should provide people with the added convenience of just calling out to play music or get directions, but the digital assistant could also help with safety, by helping drivers keep their eyes on the road.

After successfully introducing Alexa into people's homes, Amazon is working on bringing Alexa to the workplace too, as part of a larger effort to let people access the voice assistant in more places throughout the day.

Using Alexa for cars, people will be able to remotely lock a vehicle or autostart it. While driving, they'll be able to play music, find recommendations for nearby restaurants and get directions, all using voice controls. With a smart home gadget, people will also be able to use Alexa to turn up the heat and flick on the lights at home as they're driving there. Additional Toyota models using Alexa will be available in 2019.

Amazon teamed up with Ford last year to bring Alexa to some of its cars. At CES this year, Amazon announced partnerships with electric vehicle company Byton, Panasonic and Anker to bring Alexa to more vehicles.

On Monday, Amazon said it teamed with Toyota on the carmaker's new autonomous shuttle called the e-Palette.

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