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lo-res_157635762-sAmazon sells virtually everything. Why not cars? In several experimental moves, the retailing powerhouse appears to be poised to expand its reach into vehicular markets.

First, in a collaboration with Hyundai, Amazon’s Prime Now service made it possible for consumers in the Los Angeles area to order a car to test drive. Once they had registered, potential buyers could have the vehicle, a 2017 Hyundai Elantra, delivered to their home or office, then tool around in it for about an hour. If they liked it, the car would offer directions to the nearest Hyundai dealership. The initiative claims to make shopping for a car—traditionally a complicated and frustrating process—just as convenient as shopping for anything else that is available on Amazon.

Second, this partnership also extends to the features of the car itself. Hyundai’s Genesis line of cars is the first to offer voice-recognition software that links with Amazon’s Alexa tool. Thus consumers who are already accustomed to asking Alexa to play music or tell them the weather while they are at home also can start asking her to provide directions and change the temperature setting while on the go.

Third, following soon after these experiments with Hyundai, Amazon also introduced new pages on its site, contained within a “Vehicles” menu. Potential car buyers can visit the pages to receive the sort of Amazon-provided information that they love to get for other products. Amazon encourages people who own the listed models to offer their own reviews. It also features a question-and-answer section specific to each model. On the right side, it provides the model’s list prices, color options, and specifications. If a model owner clicks on the links, she or he can also find spare parts and accessories. A “Your Garage” button allows visitors to add the car to their account, then interact with other owners, sharing stories, reviews, and tips.

The only thing that visitors cannot do is order a car through Amazon for delivery the next day. But can that option be far behind?

Discussion Question:

  1. Why do you think Amazon is testing these automotive options?

 Source: E.J. Schultz, “Hyundai Rolls Out Amazon Prime Now Test Drive Program,” Advertising Age, August 19, 2016.