Amazon plans a digital assault on the retail automotive sector and is sounding the attack in Europe first, sources have told Automobilwoche, an affiliate of Automotive News Europe.
The Internet giant has recruited Christoph Moeller, a partner at the Oliver Wyman consultancy for the effort. He was responsible for the auto industry at the firm up until last February.
“At Amazon, I am overseeing the OEM business in the European market,” Moeller told Automobilwoche.
Amazon is spending large sums to build up its new unit, which will be run from Luxembourg and will start by selling cars in the UK. “It has been luring experts with fat pay packages for some time,” an automotive consultant said.
“I know that Amazon is planning something in this area,” a spokesman for Fiat Chrysler said. Like Hyundai and Opel, Fiat has already sold cars over Amazon.
Amazon is exerting “massive pressure to add yet another supporting pillar to the market in the form of test drives,” said an executive at one manufacturer. In scattered instances, it is already possible to get test drives of Mercedes models at Amazon.
A spokesman for Amazon declined to comment on European plans and it’s not clear whether new or used cars will be offered. The company last year announced a deal to sell three Fiat cars, including the 500 and Panda, on its Italian website. The program was extended in March and now also includes long-term leases.
Amazon is seeking to fill a gap as traditional dealerships lose appeal.
In the U.S., Amazon’s most noticeable automotive activity so far has been in the parts business. It has also been active in developing a consumer research portal.
Bloomberg contributed to this report