Amazon Pushes Deeper Into Auto Industry With Research Site

  • Amazon Vehicles to feature customer reviews, photos and specs
  • Effort pushes into territory of car-centric sites like TrueCar

Amazon.com Inc. is pushing deeper into the auto industry and car-parts market with a new website featuring reviews, images and specifications on thousands of new and classic car models.

Customers can research cars on the new Amazon Vehicles website, they just can’t buy one there. The site is designed to complement the company’s other car initiatives such as Amazon Automotive, a marketplace featuring millions of parts and accessories for cars, trucks and motorcycles, and Amazon Garage, which lets shoppers save vehicles in their profiles to make it easier to find parts they need. Shoppers also can book and pay for routine auto maintenance such as oil changes, tire rotation and battery installation from screened professionals in their neighborhoods through Amazon Home Services.

The new Amazon effort has features similar to car-centric websites such as TrueCar and Autotrader. The idea is to draw more people to Amazon when they are thinking about buying and fixing their cars -- and potentially generating advertising revenue or partnerships with dealerships and manufacturers.

Sales at U.S. auto parts stores, led by AutoZone Inc., Advance Auto Parts Inc. and O’Reilly Automotive Inc., will grow 2.3 percent to $55 billion in sales this year, according to an August report from IBISWorld. U.S. consumers will purchase more than 14 million new cars this year and spent $37.5 billion in June, a record for the month, according to a monthly forecast from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

TrueCar Inc. fell 6.3 percent to $9.96 at 10:13 a.m. Thursday after the news. Autobytel Inc., which also has car-related websites, declined 2.8 percent to $16.47.

Thursday’s announcement is the latest step for Seattle-based Amazon to position itself in the day-to-day spending of its roughly 300 million customers, who can use the largest online marketplace to buy groceries, books, clothing and electronics, stream music and movies and even hire a house cleaner or landscaper. Businesses are eager to join with Amazon for its huge customer base.

Amazon is also partnering with Hyundai Motor Co. to bring new cars to customers interested in taking on-demand test drives through a program called “Prime Now. Drive Now.” And it is working with auto manufacturers to integrate its voice-command technology Alexa in new cars that would let people start their cars and set the temperature using their voices.

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