The Seattle e-commerce juggernaut is launching Amazon Vehicles, a place on its online store that will house car specs and reviews for shoppers to research car purchases. They can’t buy vehicles there, though.
Amazon.com now wants you to shop for vehicles on its site — except it won’t sell you a car.
On Thursday, the Seattle e-commerce juggernaut is launching Amazon Vehicles, a destination on its online store that will house car specifications and reviews to help shoppers research car purchases on Amazon.com, just as they do when they lust after a fancy coffee maker.
But vehicles, in most states a highly regulated retail industry, are not for sale there. Nor are there links or special offers from car dealers, at least for now.
It’s more an information resource such as those provided by Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds.com, except the purpose seems to be to draw customers to the Amazon Automotive store, a part of the company’s retail empire that sells parts and accessories.
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The move rides on Amazon’s growing role as the de facto search engine for products.
“More and more customers are turning to Amazon for researching products, and now we’re enabling that experience for vehicles — which is one of the most important, research-intensive purchases in customers’ lives,” an Amazon spokeswoman said.
Those in the market for a new ride can just type the model they’re curious about as they would for any other item. They also can browse by year, make, model, fuel economy or even customer rating.
Most important, they can pore over thousands of customer reviews and ask questions about a specific model.
Motor vehicles that need registration are one of the rare product lines, along with tobacco, assault weapons and other regulated items, that aren’t sold at on the Everything Store.
Dealers have long defended state laws that steer the buying and selling of most vehicles to franchised dealerships.
That doesn’t mean Amazon hasn’t tried. In 2000, the company backed Greenlight.com, a car-buying service that promised a “superior car-buying experience” without haggling, through a network of dealers.
The service was accessible through Amazon’s online store. But the experiment was short-lived; Greenlight was later acquired by CarsDirect, a service that connects shoppers with dealers.
Amazon to donate Kindles to schools
Amazon.com has launched the Kindle Reading Fund, an initiative to donate e-readers, tablets and digital books to libraries, schools and nonprofit organizations around the world.
The move was announced Wednesday in a blog post by Dave Limp, the head of Amazon’s devices business. It’s the latest high profile philanthropic initiative unveiled by the Seattle tech and retail giant, which seems to be finding its ground as a more vocal corporate benefactor.
“We recognize that not everyone has access to the books they want or need,” Limp wrote in the post.
The fund will initially donate “thousands” of Kindle devices to reading programs in the developing world through a collaboration with Worldreader, a nonprofit. It’s also working with the National PTA, as well as hospitals, local schools and other nonprofits, Amazon said.
The fund has a Web page where groups can request donations from Amazon.
— Ángel González