Sep 19

You can’t buy a car on Amazon, but you can research one

On Thursday launched Amazon Vehicles, an online platform for users to research on cars, auto parts and accessories. The platform will include specifications, images and reviews on for a large number of car models, ranging from Tesla Motors’ 2014 Model S to the iconic Ford Mustang 1965. USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO – You still can’t buy a car on Amazon, but you can do just about everything else.

On Thursday, the Seattle company launched Amazon Vehicles, what it’s calling an online “automotive community.” There, customers can research cars, shop for car parts and accessories and read and write reviews of cars.

The car research destination, as Amazon terms it, gives visitors access to auto specifications, images, videos and customer reviews for both new and older car models.

It’s an extension of Amazon’s Automotive store, which is more of a straight Amazon buying page for parts, accessories and care products. The Vehicles site is more along the lines of Consumer Reports, AutoTrader, and TrueCar, with easy-to-search specs on cars and trucks.

The reviews are still sparse but could grow into a useful resource for would-be car buyers, especially those already comfortable with shopping and searching on Amazon.

Customers can also chat amongst themselves via Amazon’s “Customer Questions & Answers,” which allows them to ask other customers questions about specific cars or trucks.

The site doesn’t allow Amazon customers anything near one-click shopping to buy a car, and isn’t likely to anytime soon. Multiple states have franchise laws to protect car dealerships, which have made it difficult for auto makers to sell directly to consumers, or in some cases to do online sales.

However, it has the virtue of training Amazon customers to always come to its site and apps, even for things that Amazon doesn’t sell. That approach has worked well with its Netflix-like Amazon Studios, which offers streaming content available to Prime subscribers. These customers spend over twice on average than non-Prime members, according to estimates.

“Our goal is to support customers during one of the most important, research-intensive purchases in their lives by helping them make informed decisions every step of the way,” Adam Goetsch, director of Automotive at, said in a release.

Amazon’s been making other forays into the auto world. On Monday it announced a four-day pilot program that allowed customers in Los Angeles and Orange county to order a 2017 Hyundai Elantra to test drive, via the Amazon website. The program was only scheduled for two weekends, August 20th–21st and August 27th–28th.

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