Amazon, expanding automotive business, launches vehicle research portal
Amazon’s vehicle detail pages have sections that break down “model changes,” “model strengths” and “model value.”
UPDATED: 8/25/16 5:07 pm ET – adds details
Amazon, in its latest move into the automotive space, is getting into the vehicle research business.
The online retailer today launched Amazon Vehicles, a car research portal where consumers can view vehicle-detail pages and reviews of thousands of new and classic cars, while being able to upload photos and videos of their own rides.
Those who upload their vehicles can interact with the Amazon Vehicles community by answering questions about their cars, the company said.
While Amazon is synonymous with online shopping, the new research portal isn’t stepping into vehicle transactions just yet. But it houses information one would expect to see on third-party shopping sites such as Cars.com and Autotrader.
Amazon’s vehicle detail pages have sections that break down “model changes,” “model strengths” and “model value.” The pages also include an extensive “model overview” that summarizes vehicle features.
Individuals who use the site can compare a specific vehicle’s trim levels side-by-side on the detail pages in neatly organized tables that outline price, performance, exterior and interior functions among other features.
Amazon Vehicles is an extension of the company’s Amazon Automotive store, which is a marketplace for parts that Amazon sells and ships, as well as used parts offered by others, just as Amazon.com does for other, non-automotive products.
Amazon is steadily carving out a place in the automotive space. The Amazon Vehicles announcement comes after Hyundai launched a limited test-drive program in California through Amazon Prime Now, which is known for delivery of groceries and household goods.
Follows Hyundai test
Hyundai Motor America partnered with Amazon for an on-demand test-drive program for the 2017 Elantra in Los Angeles and Orange County, Calif. People can book 45- to 60-minute drives. The program — called “Prime Now. Drive Now.” — ran last weekend and will take place again this weekend.
Hyundai said the vehicles can be delivered to a person’s front door, office or even local coffee shops.
“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,” said Adam Goetsch, director of automotive at Amazon.com, said in a statement.
“Amazon Vehicles is a great resource for customers who are interested in car information or looking for a broad selection of parts and accessories — all enhanced by the ability to tap into the knowledge, opinions, and experiences of other car owners within the Amazon customer community,” Goetsch said.
Amazon already has several domain names that could serve its new research portal.
Amazon purchased six automotive-themed domains in January, including Amazon.Cars, Amazon.Car and Amazon.Auto. At the moment, the domains send people to the Amazon Automotive parts hub.
Online auction and shopping site eBay also has acquired an automotive domain. The site uses eBay.Cars to direct people to eBay Motors.
Using the Amazon.Auto designation for Amazon Vehicles, for example, would not only be a branding play but could lead to increased search-engine traffic, said Mike Ambrose, COO of the XYZ registry, which operates the .Cars, .Car and .Auto domain extensions. The new automotive domains were first made available in December to companies registered in the Trademark Clearinghouse.
Ambrose has no direct knowledge of Amazon’s future plans, but wouldn’t be surprised to see the research site migrate to one of the new domains at some point.
He said: “I can’t predict the future, but we have seen big brands do it with these new automotive domain names in the past. They’re shorter, they’re more precise and they make sense.”
Cars.com CEO Alex Vetter said he isn’t surprised to see Amazon get into the vehicle research space. He doesn’t view Amazon Vehicles, a site purely for research, as a direct competitor because it doesn’t connect consumers to dealerships.
“Amazon has been in the advertising and automotive parts business for years. I think this is just yet another way to extend their current aftermarket business and parts business and continue to grow there,” Vetter told Automotive News. “We operate fundamentally different businesses.”