One thing that's clear as touchscreen and digital interfaces take over automobile dashboards: All these screens add complexity and dangerous distraction to the driving experience. Now Elon Musk has announced that Tesla owners "will be able to do pretty much anything via voice command" in the Model 3 thanks to a future software update.
Definitely. You will be able to do pretty much anything via voice command. Software team is focused on core Model 3 functionality right now, but that will be done soon, then we will add a lot more features.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 15, 2018
Musk made the promise on Twitter, where he's been particularly active lately in responding to Tesla owners who ask about future software updates or reports of glitches. He was responding to a user who said "nearly everything you control on the Model 3 requires input on the screen. Thus, taking your eyes off of the road more than most other cars."
Artificial intelligence is quickly seeping into the automobile. Companies ranging from Hyundai, through its Blue Link remote service, and Toyota, Lexus and BMW through Amazon Alexa, are expanding voice-control integration in the cockpit.
Musk in the same response noted that software developers are currently focused on "core Model 3 functionality," and Tesla has many issues on its hands right now with the Model 3, from lagging production estimates to complaints from new owners about subpar interior materials. It's also not clear whether the voice-control capability would be extended to the Models S and X. In recent weeks Musk has used Twitter to promise "major browser upgrades," improved navigation software and even an electric pickup truck.
Musk makes a lot of pronouncements on Twitter that probably induce heartburn among Tesla staff. But there's little doubt that his responsiveness to customers, and occasional solicitations of ideas, go a long way to cultivate brand loyalty among owners. It's remarkable to watch, and no doubt other automakers are taking note.