Online juggernaut Amazon appears to be taking a first step toward a “one click” purchase of a car by lunching its Amazon Vehicles car research portal last week.
The new website allows shoppers to view detailed pages for thousands of new and used vehicles with specifications, photos and videos not unlike other auto shopping sites.
While the pages don’t offer a way to buy a car, truck or SUV, at least not yet, they do include pricing information.
Users can also upload photos and videos of their own rides and interact with the Amazon vehicles community, the online retailer said.
Adam Goetsch, director of Amazon Automotive, said the purpose of the new site is to “support customers during one of the most important, research-intensive purchases in their lives by helping them make informed decisions.”
As for reaping dollars, Amazon Vehicles could draw customers to Amazon Automotive, which sells millions of new and used parts and accessories such as tires, batteries and tools, either direct from Amazon or from others as it does for non-automotive products.
Asked about if or when Amazon might sell cars online, a company spokeswoman said she “can’t speculate on what we may or may not do in the future.”
For now, Amazon Vehicles is a good tool for researching cars, but establishing the site as a place to buy one is filled with a myriad of obstacles.
The biggest hurdle is the various state franchise laws that prevents the sale of new vehicles by anyone not approved by a car manufacturer.
Also, these franchise laws almost always require new car dealers to provide service facilities, a highly costly investment for even Amazon.
Then there’s the issue of inventory. Having a selection of vehicles takes up a lot more space than the standard small items housed in the company’s massive warehouses.
Finally, there’s the payment process. Since most people don’t buy a car with a credit card or pay with cash, Amazon would have to create a financial arm for financing and leasing.
There is a slight possibility that Amazon could connect with Chinese-backed companies such as electric-vehicle makers BYD or Faraday Future who don’t want to work with existing auto dealerships or operate their own facilities like Tesla does.
The most likely move for Amazon Vehicles to begin selling vehicles direct is offering connections to car dealers to check their inventories and receive a price quote as other research sites do.
But then again this is Amazon, and the giant online retailer has already shown it is serious about selling goods and services with its recent expansion into home goods and grocery delivery.
Could automobiles be next?