Skip to main content

When it comes to car buying, shoppers are now, more than ever before, considering alternative means to buy a vehicle. For example, for years, Costco has been a favorite among new vehicle customers. In Costco’s Auto Program, Costco cardholders get access to exclusive, no-haggle prices on new vehicles. Cars can be purchased and then picked up at a local dealer. This means less time on dealer lots jumping through hoops in the sales office just to get behind the wheel of a new vehicle.

Amazon recently announced that it plans on entering this direct-to-consumer vehicle buying system with a program of its own. However, it looks like this new car-buying process from Amazon is more than just a little misleading.

The Amazon stage display at the 2023 LA Auto Show is a large box with the Prime logo and musical notes on the side
The Amazon stage display at the 2023 LA Auto Show | Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

The company made headlines recently by announcing users can buy a car right on Amazon

Amazon is one of the world’s largest companies. While its business practices are rarely applauded, Amazon does have the power to deliver just about anything directly to your door in a couple of days. Amazon is also fairly “no-nonsense” when it comes to its consumers. If buyers have Amazon Prime, shipping is always fast and free. There are no hidden costs at the back end of purchases.

With Amazon’s track record of being transparent and efficient, it was assumed that this car-buying process would be just as good as buying anything else on the site. However, some Amazon faithful started to take part in this new Amazon car-buying program. It was obvious that this car-buying process wasn’t much more than a bait and switch by the company.

A quick trial run of the feature shows that it isn’t what it seems

Unlike other car-buying processes, it appears that Amazon ultimately redirects you to a local dealer’s website. It seems like buying through Amazon doesn’t even save you money. One X user explains that his Amazon vehicle purchase came with an additional $3,000 dealer adjustment. On the official Amazon Automotive site, it appears that the program isn’t much more than free advertising space for brands to showcase their vehicles. Any actual attempt at car shopping through Amazon just sends a user to a local dealer.

What does this mean for the future of the program?

According to reports from Good Morning America, Amazon’s current program could just be an early form of the final program. By 2024, Amazon is aiming to have Hyundai vehicles as the first vehicles to be completely sold through Amazon. Of course, delivery of the vehicle will happen through a local dealer, but Amazon claims the vehicles will be able to be purchased entirely through Amazon with an Amazon payment method.

The future of car buying is all online; that much is certain. The COVID-19 pandemic showcased just how little people need to see a vehicle to purchase one. The pandemic also shined a light on scummy dealership practices that are only in place to leech more money off of consumers that they never wanted to spend on add-ons they don’t want or need. If Amazon can find out how to roll out an all-online vehicle buying process, it will continue to be ahead of the curve in commerce.