Amazon is gearing up its car knowledge.
No, the e-commerce juggernaut still isn’t selling cars — not yet, anyway. Instead, the company on Thursday launched a new webpage called Amazon Vehicles that helps customers research new and classic cars.
Amazon Vehicles could help solidify Amazon’s place as the search engine for shopping. Bypassing Google’s own Google Shopping search engine could train consumers to start thinking about a purchase at Amazon first, even in the rare case the company doesn’t sell the item. That way, Amazon can condition shoppers to keep coming back to its site.
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The site includes detail pages for thousands of cars and trucks, with specs, pictures and videos. While these pages don’t provide a direct way for you to buy a vehicle, they do include general pricing information, like the manufacturer’s suggested price.
In a statement, 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.”
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Further down the road, Amazon Vehicles could provide a platform to sell cars, though Amazon would face a lot of online competition from eBay, Craigslist, TrueCar, AutoTrader, Cars.com and others.
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PG says Amazon could provide serious competition to other car-buying websites, which don’t have much in the way of technology chops.
While U.S. state laws require that new cars be sold through a licensed dealership physically located in each state (and not owned by auto manufacturers), there is no such restriction on the sale of used cars. The current auto sites with which PG is acquainted provide used car listings from dealers and private sellers and detailed information on new cars with listings of new cars available through at least some local dealers.
PG is most definitely not an expert on a single state’s auto dealership laws, let alone 50, but would be surprised if Amazon didn’t have a way to sell both used and new cars online in its plans.
While new auto dealerships are valuable businesses, Amazon has enough money to purchase new car dealerships wherever it wants to do so if permitted by law. If modifications in state dealership laws are needed, the offer to build or expand large Amazon fulfillment centers and Amazon Web Services data centers in a state could help persuade state legislatures to tweak those laws to open doors for Amazon.
As far as auto manufacturers are concerned, Amazon should have some interesting pricing strategies to discuss with them, just like it did with large publishers. PG speculates that Tesla will be all in with Amazon Vehicles, but he could be wrong.
And what about Alexa? PG would love to get into a car and say, “Alexa, take me to a nice restaurant” or “Alexa take me to Los Angeles,” then start reading a book.