Amazon are setting up to become online car dealers with the UK cited as a possible country for a pilot programme. The German publication Automobilwoche (subscription required) reports that Amazon have already started hiring staff for the venture with Christoph Möller pegged to be in charge of relationships with car manufacturers. Möller was previously a motors expert with the Oliver Wyman management consultants.
If Amazon begin selling motors, this will not only put them head to head with eBay and the rest of the car industry as a whole, but is also likely to increase the profile of Amazon in the lucrative parts and accessories business. The one thing that eBay have going for them is the massive second hand market for salvaged parts which Amazon really aren’t set up to handle. Amazon is great if it’s a current model set of brake pads that you’re after, but try finding a replacement window winder for a 30 year old much loved classic motor and you’ll come up short, just about no one can beat eBay for their massive selection and engaged community as evidenced with the eBay Car Challenge which they’re running for the second year in a row.
But would you buy a brand new motor from Amazon? Wouldn’t you want a test drive, to see the motor, to order it in your favoured colour and trim and choose the options? It’s tricky to see how Amazon can deliver this, especially the ability to see the motor prior to purchase and go for a test drive… unless that is that they’re relying on you going to your local garage for a bit of showrooming before you make your purchase on Amazon. That, I imagine, is an idea which is going to send dealerships up and down the country into meltdown.
The other option is of course to enable you to buy on Amazon but collect from a local dealership. Then effectively it becomes more akin to a classified ad and gets around the knotty problem of selling car finance or hire purchase agreements.
Would you buy a car from Amazon? With their reputation for putting the customer first it might be a better option than your local car dealer, but beware as it’s rumoured that the business will be run out of Luxembourg. If you’re first to buy a car from Amazon, read the small print and make sure you know who (the legal entity) is that you’re purchasing from and where the warranty sits.