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Amazon Vehicles (amazon.com)
472 points by kjhughes on Aug 25, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 246 comments



Before you laugh that you'd never use this to buy a car, it may be worth taking the time to find your make/model and add it to your "Garage" on amazon. Amazon will then try to confirm or not if the cabin air filter you are about to buy is a correct fit for your car. Amazon tries to do the same thing with camera gear.

At least, that's the theory. In practice you still need to do 100% of the due diligence or you'll end up with spark plug wires that are for the non-California version of the engine of your girlfriend's 2004 Outback, and then you have to build an awkward bracket over the motor because you're too stubborn to return them...


Somewhat surprising the manufacturers were still selling two different engines in 2004.

My pet peeve with Amazon is a similar "nice but not quite good enough feature" : their selling of fasteners. Nuts, bolts, etc fall into a clear if quite complex N-space of sizes and features. This can be represented nicely in a web site, for example : http://www.mcmaster.com/ however even though Amazon acquired a nuts-n-bolts retailer some years ago, their site is a horrible mess for this kind of item. I'm not sure if this is because there are no humans curating the catalog, or because Bezos doesn't do his own maker projects and vehicle maintenance...


To add to the problem with fasteners or really anything that has sizes listed with fractions, the search is completely oblivious to the `/` character, so trying to find a 1/2-20 bolt will get you every bolt with a 1 2 or 20 somewhere in the description, without taking it's position/context into account at all. I usually end up using google to search amazon in those situations, which kinda sucks since you give up the ability to filter by prime or one day items.


Likewise, try to find some "ECC RAM" for your server on amazon.fr. They don't make the distinction between "ECC" and "non-ECC" in search, hence returning basically every kind of RAM. Because, for some weird reason, French retailers like to specify that their RAM is not ECC in the title of the item. (Surprisingly enough, this doesn't seem to be an issue on amazon.com.)


They were still doing it in 2008.

I had a 2008 Lancer and the owners manual constantly had to make distinctions between "California" and "non-California" versions for various procedures/features.

(I'm not even in North America, that's just global manufacturing for you)


Doing some quick searches suggests that this is an emissions-related issue.


It is, but California's emissions standards have been adopted by other states, and a lot of companies just make one model that is compliant in all 50 states. I'm not sure what the cost difference is these days, but I wonder if it's worth having to maintain two separate lines of inventory. It presents a problem to people who buy a new car, then move to California. If there aren't enough miles on the odometer, California will refuse to register the car because it doesn't meet their emissions standards.


Emissions standard says I don't have enough miles on the odometer, huh? I'll show them.


Completely agreed. I hate buying those kinds of parts from amazon for this reason.

Find the fitting you need but you found it in 3/4 instead of 1/2? You need to start over from scratch 90% of the time.

I'm a fan of supplyhouse.com but mcmaster.com looks good too!


I bought exhaust bolts this way, and of course they didn't fit. The spacers on the bolts were longer than the OEM bolts, so fumes would go into the cabin. Lesson learned..

It would be nice if they fixed this problem. I saw a ton of parts that incorrectly said they'd fit my vehicle. Windshield wipers are an easy example. You'll see varying length wiper blades they say will fit.

Edit: It seems like they could favor search results matching specific vehicles to combat this. For example, a part should be viewed as less relevant for claiming compatibility with more vehicles. This would be problematic for universal stuff like tires, wiper blades, and other accessories, but I'm sure they could differentiate between the legit universal stuff and the seller's who claim their part fits every vehicle in existence.

I'm sure this is harder than I'm making it out to be, I can't imagine all the edge cases they have to deal with. But some effort would really help, and I'd be more likely to buy this stuff online if it wasn't so damn difficult to verify that the part is compatible.


I run into this same problem on eBay. I search for my make and model, and tons of junk aftermarket parts show up that won't fit without thousands of dollars of fabrication. Sure that $150 turbo will fit my car, after I fabricate 50 parts. I now have to put "-fits" in my search query, but I'm sure that omits tons of legitimate results. But eBay makes a grip of money from all the listings of crap generic parts, so they have no incentive to stop it.


eBay is just horrible at cleaning up their own website. Go to games and consoles, select PS4, then select "consoles" subcategory - I would say 80% of items there are not consoles, they are accessories, games, pads, everything that should be in their own category. Same with any other product - which makes eBay incredibly frustrating to use and just a bad experience in general. Not to mention the amount of clearly counterfeit, fake, pirated games that are on sale - you'd think it would be easy to spot and remove, but ebay doesn't seem to care.


> I bought exhaust bolts this way, and of course they didn't fit. The spacers on the bolts were longer than the OEM bolts, so fumes would go into the cabin. Lesson learned..

If one orders a spare that doesn't fit in the existing vehicle, it may prompt purchasing a vehicle instead. Who knows?


?

Varying lengths of wiper blades will fit your car. Most cars have a front-left, front-right, and rear wiper blade, all of which are different sizes.


I should of been more specific. I just did a quick check to confirm, and I see three wiper blade sizes (24", 16", and 14") on the first page of results. My car doesn't have a model/trim with a rear wiper blade.


I always up-size my wiper blades, the larger ones work just fine and clear a larger area on the window.

I never understood why they under-size them to begin with.

So a 16" will almost certainly fit where a 14" goes.


Well I laughed upon adding a Tesla Model S and the "parts and accessories for your vehicle" showing tons of things that weren't even relevant like oil, oil filters, and exhaust systems.


Small price to pay for living in the future ;)


I don't remember seeing any electric cars in Mad Max...


They all live in Electric Utopia. That's one of the parts the movie has not shown.


To be fair we never get to see the bullet farm or gas town.


All we saw was Australia, Australia is like that today anyway.


Well actually, "Gas Town" was mentioned in the latest movie. It and oil refining in general are also a significant part of the Mad Max video game. http://madmax.wikia.com/wiki/Gas_Town


I wonder if they don't have a separate categorization for "electric vehicle"


I did this awhile ago with my old car and found it tried to tell me whether a bunch of random non-car electronics parts I was buying were compatible with my car. Which was a bit cluttering.

It is an interesting feature and sometimes useful, but like you I found that when I even was buying car parts it wasn't always on the ball about whether or not the part I was looking at was compatible. I believe I remember errors in both the false positive and false negative directions, so I stopped trusting it's screening capabilities really at all and mostly have ignored it since.

It's motorcycle part match is an even larger adventure.


Have had the same experience with motorcycle brake pads.


> Before you laugh that you'd never use this to buy a car, it may be worth taking the time to find your make/model and add it to your "Garage" on amazon. Amazon will then try to confirm or not if the cabin air filter you are about to buy is a correct fit for your car. Amazon tries to do the same thing with camera gear.

If that's the case, why didn't Amazon include older model cars? I know the Chevy Volt has models starting from 2012 or 2011, yet only 2016 and 2017 models are shown

UPDATE: I was wrong. The different models do show up if you search for it, but for some reason I did not see it while browsing.

I just wish that Amazon could start selling cars directly.


> If that's the case, why didn't Amazon include older model cars?

Given that I can add an 1896 Duryea (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duryea_Motor_Wagon_Company) to my garage, I think it's safe to say they include older model cars.


> I just wish that Amazon could start selling cars directly.

They are waiting for people to buy enough accessories that aren't suitable for their existing vehicles.

Subsequently, they'll start selling vehicles that might be suitable for the accessories sold.


I just did a search for full-size vans with all-wheel drive (I have idealistic and irrational dreams of being an all-terrain courier), and it had results for model years as far back as 2001.


I don't think amazon will start selling car now or in the near future. The subtitle below "amazon vehicles" logo says "see specs, read reviews and ask owners". It looks like it's just a forum kind of thing at this moment. And we know there're huge amount of legal issues people needs to deal with when sell cars as well as financing, leasing etc. If amazon gonna launch this, it's going to be a huge product, huge enough to be another billion dollar company.


Disclaimer: I work for a company selling cars online. These are my personal opinions, not my employers.

First let's assume that Amazon can't sell new cars due to restrictive franchise laws in every state.

You are easily off by an order of magnitude on the billion dollar business statement. Carmax is the largest used car dealer in the nation, with a market cap of over 11 billion. As of 2015 they captured about 1.7% of used car sales. (They sold 582,282 vehicles to consumers and over 33.8 million used vehicles were sold, I'm on my phone so I can source this later if you'd like)

Second Amazon is an beast and anyone in a market that Amazon is considering should pay careful attention. That said I think that vehicle sales is such a different market in many ways that Amazon will either take a long time to figure out the whole process and provide a consistent quality product or they will acquire a company currently in the used vehicle market. The two leaders in the online space had a huge leg up due to ancestry or acquisition. I doubt Amazon would be stubborn enough to learn the business the hard way.


AFAIK, Amazon Japan does sell cars.


They also have this for other categories like appliances too: amazon.com/partstore


This worked great on my old car where the sun visor was deteriorated and I was searching for a replacement with matching fabric color.


Super Cheap Auto, an Australian (and New Zealand) auto parts chain has something similar to this.

You select your make, model, year, and engine, and it comes up with a list of parts that fit your vehicle, that can be filtered by use.

They also offer free shipping. I got a new front bumper and apron for my truck for $200-odd shipped to my front door.


Euro Car Parts in the UK does this too.

Infact you can even put your vehicle registration number in and it'll do the work for you.


Subaru franchise dealers who do online parts sales always ask customers to enter their VIN to confirm fitment. Sometimes manufacturers (not just Subaru but all of them) even change part numbers within a model year so you always have to check.


I've been had surprising good luck ordering automotive parts from Amazon.

I stripped some caliper bolts on an 90's truck. I needed a heli-coil(odd size one), and a new bolt. When ordering the program suggested new caliper bushings. Everything fit perfectly.

I thought, if they can keep accuracy of orders spot on, and prices cheap; they will put a huge dent in the automotive parts market.

That said, I've noticed when Amazon goes into a new market, they nail price, and accuracy of order.

They then seem to raise prices slowly. I notice those price increases, and will shop elsewhere, but as of now--I will buy all my auto parts from Amazon.

Whomever programmed that automotive garage did a really good job.


Amazon likes to put local businesses out of business, doesn't it? It's like Internet's WalMart


I bought a new headlight for my car that Amazon said would fit. It did not. Maybe it was a problem with a 3rd party that is selling through Amazon, but it was Amazon that told me it would fit and they lost my trust on car parts.


Amazon can't even tell me whether they're able to ship something to my country until the second-to-last page of the checkout process.


In theory is right! I added my Toyota Tacoma a few years ago, and STILL ended up with the wrong windshield wipers.


If I search google for "new tires 2011 Kawasaki ninja 1000" Google is somehow unable to produce a shopping result. There is an ad for Yokohama. Do they even make motorcycle tires?

If this is the competition Amazon is going to make a lot of money on this Garage thing.


Amazon has the ability to search for it, but doesn't seem to have any products: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sx_as?keywords=tires&rh=n%3A156...


That is quite nice/horrible. Your link adds the bike to my Amazon garage without any other action on my part.


It seems to work somewhat well. I bought a set of brake rotors that were 100% great, but a replacement wiper motor that ended up being for the wrong model. I wonder to what degree third party sellers are required to verify fit information.


Do you know if there is a stand alone service like "Your Garage" somewhere?


Most auto parts sites have something along these lines.

Rock Auto is my go-to for most parts. Example, for my 2012 civic:

http://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/honda,2012,civic,1.8l+l4,...



Yes I mean if there is a service not on amazon :)


What's really interesting about this business model is not the fact that you can buy a car online, it's the price transparency that you create with this: Car dealers often have 10-20 % margin on a car sale, and they make most of their money by providing services to you after you bought the car, so they are usually able to give you some big discounts. Also, as they usually receive a bonus by the car maker for selling a given number of cars, they have a strong incentive to sell more. The money that they make for themselves depends therefore on the margin that they can achieve, which in turn depends on the customer's knowledge of the "fair" price. Having all the transaction prices out in the open would therefore be quite a nightmare for most of them, as it will allow customers to push the price down quite a bit. Especially for small dealerships (that have higher fixed cost in comparison to their sales and receive less bonus as they sell fewer cars than big dealers) this could be highly problematic, while it could be beneficial for the larger dealerships. Truecar has been doing this model for a while, and I guess Amazon finally wanted to have a share of this market too (and the data associated with it).

On the technical side it looks like they're using the JATO database for their search/configuration tool (http://www.jato.com/). A few years ago I also implemented a car configuration website/app for a German startup (which doesn't exist anymore) using this data. The most challenging aspect was the huge amount of possible configurations/options that exist for some models (especially BMW and Mercedes), which would also have very complex inter-dependencies (e.g. choosing package A + B means you can't choose package C except if you also choose D). To resolve this I had to write a dynamic constraint solver: Finally some abstract computer science that was usable in practice :D

As far as I understand, in the US there are usually less options to choose from, which makes extensive configurators unnecessary. Still, it was an interesting challenge.


> So having all the transaction prices out in the open is a nightmare for them, as it will allow customers to get an idea of what the actual "fair" price for a car would be. Truecar has been doing this for a while, I guess Amazon finally want to have a share of this market too (and the data associated with it).

As far as I can tell Amazon Vehicles is overcharging for the cars by at least 5-10% ( the car I currently drive, they are charging 25%!! more than I paid).

This isn't a nightmare for Car Dealers. This is a nightmare for consumers because they will take the prices Amazon quote seriously.


Where are you seeing amazon is charging for cars--have any links available?

All I could find were Cars that could be added to a virtual garage, presumably to ensure compatibility with any automotive parts purchasing.


They are listing MSRPs. I wasn't clear sorry.


Ah, thanks for the clarification.


What makes you think it is using JATO instead of one of the other configuration products like Chrome or KBB?


The stock images seem to be from JATO and the way the different options/makes are organized and displayed seems to reflect the JATO database layout. I could be wrong of course.


Ah makes sense. I'm much more familiar with Chrome and eVox images.


KBB has existed for quite a while for precisely this reason.


I used to work for company writing software for car dealerships, and there's a lot under those brands that may make you think twice, even about KBB.

Note that this was 2005 - 2011; I haven't kept up with the industry to know if it had changed any, or at all.

I'll talk about the used car market, since the new car market doesn't have that much pricing variation.

There are several pricing companies for cars in the U.S. Don't forget these companies are also for-profit companies, so the prices consumers get to see are generally also inflated a bit (retail price). The actual market price before the dealership acquires the car is known as the wholesale price. Who determines this wholesale price? Well, the prices actually come from car auctions - a place where buyers that either work independently or for dealers go to restock on used car inventory. So if you really, really had the time - go to a car auction (ex: https://www.autoreturn.com/san-francisco-ca/auction-terms/) and get your car at wholesale price.

Now, what does this have to do with pricing guides such as KBB, BlackBook, NADA (nada.com), Edmunds? Well, these companies have people who go to auctions and record the winning bids. All the data they collect ends up being the wholesale price, usually only seen by the dealership. The retail price is then generally a bump of ~$2000 of the wholesale price, depending on the car + other data factors. The kicker is, back in 200x, the data collection at auctions were just samples, all done manually by pencil and paper, and submitted back to KBB, etc. Often times, the data is so incomplete, the pricing guides would all be off quite a bit between each other. There's also regional variations, as KBB is more west coast based, so the prices tend to be higher.

Anyways, that's the surface of things. Also, I don't know if the industry's changed or not. Right when I left that position, KBB and all the other site started to make web enabled API's - we actually used to get shipped a dll w/a data file to integrate into our SaaS product.

So take away - KBB or other pricing guide will still have a higher price than what you can actually get a car for.


You should never pay more than invoice for a new car. For that matter you should never buy a new car, it doesn't make economic sense.


I agree. I don't get all these little rules for getting the best deal on a new car. It seems like rearranging deck chairs on the titanic in terms of financial health.

You can get a much better deal by just buying a used car. Try saving 90%, not 20%.

When comparing to the cost of a new vehicle, it's very hard to spend more on an older used car no matter how badly you screw up. Even if you have to (or choose to some degree to proactively) immediately replace just about everything but the engine you're coming out way ahead compared to new cars. In fact, you can probably replace the engine too and still spend less.

I know some people like the idea or feeling of new, but that's all it is: an irrational feeling, not one backed up by data in terms of a new car being more reliable than a well maintained older one (obviously a poorly maintained car will be less reliable regardless). In fact I feel safer in a well maintained car that's been around long enough that any major recalls, etc have already mostly been found and suffered through by the guinea pigs who insist on buying new.


> it doesn't make economic sense

People repeat this a lot, but it isn't that cut and dry.

People often ONLY include the direct cost of the two vehicles. They don't include the massively discounted loans on new vehicles (e.g. 0% APR), the warranties (e.g. 3-5 years bumper to bumper), sometimes better MPG (newer model, etc), cheaper insurance, skipping state inspection for the first three-five years, new tires & other consumables, et al.

Obviously you have to look at specific vehicles to know for sure; but when I last looked at exactly this (recently used Vs. new) without the externalities it was approx $2-3K cheaper (talking CarMax, non-negotiable pricing) but after factoring in all the things listed above it was damn close (within $500-800).

And as you go more used are you really getting a deal or just exchanging miles/wear&tear for cash? The asset also has depreciated in value by then.

Just to be clear, I am simply saying you have to look at each vehicle one by one, a lot of models/manufacturers depreciate at varying speeds (e.g. a Kia depreciates a lot faster than a used Toyota or Honda).


> The asset also has depreciated in value by then.

Just to be clear, that's a GOOD thing. You want depreciation to happen NOT on your watch, BEFORE (or after) you own it.

Something that starts at $20,000 will lose a lot of value on your watch pretty quickly. Something that starts at $2,000 has already lost most of its value on someone else's watch and by the time you sell it you may only have lost say, $500 on depreciation. There's just not as much room to go down, and frankly if you keep replacing parts you can usually keep it going very economically for hundreds of thousands of miles, till the engine fails and needs rebuild/replace.

It takes a hell of a lot of savings on all those things you listed to make up the $18,000. It is especially common for people to way overpay for better MPG, when it would take decades to make it back (by which time they have another new car again)


Cheaper insurance? I don't follow the logic for that one. If you have an older car you don't need full coverage = less out of pocket.


I think they're talking about the reduced-price (or even free) insurance you often get as part of the deal when you buy a new car.


"it doesn't make economic sense"

It probably also makes no economic sense to shop at Macys rather than Goodwill or to buy a house rather than a shack. People pay more for things they want.


Yes please.

Anything that will get us closer to direct-to-consumer sales of cars. I'm ready for car dealerships to be a relic of the past.


Seriously. My last car (BMW) from seven years ago, I did entirely through email. Sent a handful of dealerships their cost sheet with the options I wanted, until I got the price I was looking for. Few months later when it was built and shipped from Germany, I drove my old car to the dealership, and drove off with the new one. Done.

As an aside, I just ordered a mattress site unseen from an online only company, and it turned out to be one of the best mattresses I've ever slept in. https://www.saatva.com/ $1000 for the luxury firm Queen, and that included shipping and taking the old one.


This is the only way to do new car shopping. Get the price + windows sticker in writing over email. Send it out to all the dealers in the nearby area and tell them they have your business if you can beat the deal.

Repeat 2-3x, pick the lowest price dealer and be willing to walk out the door if anything funny comes up.

Also quite a few dealerships are directly or indirectly part of a franchise so they won't compete with each other. In that case you usually need to expand your radius to ~100mi. Here in PNW there's great Subaru competition but when we looked at Mazda they didn't haggle at all until we went to dealers in a different state.


Yes, when it comes to a lot of luxury European cars, cities typically only have a single dealership, and there isn't much wiggle room. Ended up with one back home 240 miles away. Picked it up my way home for Thanksgiving right off the thruway. Pulled into parents with the new ride :)


Yeah, we were cross shopping Mazda/Ford/Subaru and it was totally obvious that all the Mazda dealerships were owned by a franchise. When we'd mention a quote they'd push us really hard on where we got it from and wouldn't come back with a counter offer or "we can't beat that".

Pretty transparent and only changed once we started emailing dealers across state lines. Either way they lost our business. Subaru on the other had has a pretty diverse set of dealers and we ended up with one well below "inventory"(that's a whole nother bit of misinformation) at a dealership ~15mi away.

That said Tesla still wipes the floor with any dealership experience I've had which is why I'm pretty excited to see the Model 3 hit the market and more people experience it.


Can't you simply have the manufacturer send the car with your desired options to the dealer and you just pay them the MSRP listed for your configuration in the manufacturer's website? Any negotiation that happens is for a price reduction on that or for extra stuff. It's how it's done for new cars in Europe, if the dealer doesn't have stock (though it can require up to a couple months for the new car to get to the factory to the dealer). I did it just this year.


I tried to buy a car via email. I picked out four different cars (a Kia Optima, a Honda Fit, a Toyota Prius, and a Subaru Outback) and emailed all the dealerships for those cars within a three hour drive. None of them would give me anything other than MSRP by email. Most of them called my phone within 15 minutes of me sending the email and all they wanted was for me to come in and talk to them.

I eventually went to the Toyota dealership because although they wouldn't negotiate via email, they didn't phone me either. When I told that to the salesman, he said that he could get in trouble for that because he was supposed to call.

Like every other car buying experience I've had, buying the Toyota sucked. They want to know what payment I want and all I want them to tell me is the out-the-door price. We would go back and forth and eventually they would bring some paperwork with an offer and they had accidentally changed the term from 48 to 60 months. Whoops! I think it ended up taking close to 3 hours to come to an agreement.

To this day, I'm still getting emails and phone calls from some of the dealers I initially contacted and there seems to be no way to make it stop. I would happily pay a small premium to buy from Amazon or direct if I could avoid giving my details to a local dealer.

That reminds me, I'm always getting junk mail and phone calls from scammers trying to sell me some aftermarket warranty. How did they get my name, phone, address, and car information? Is that a public record? The dealer swears they don't sell or share their customer lists.


> None of them would give me anything other than MSRP by email. Most of them called my phone within 15 minutes of me sending the email and all they wanted was for me to come in and talk to them.

Maybe you weren't insistent enough? Many dealers don't like negotiating over email, but they also hate to lose a potentially valuable lead. If you make it absolutely clear that you'll only negotiate a certain way (e.g. via email with OTD price quotes), most will play ball.

I'd also suggest starting with a service like TrueCar. The prices they give are generally not the best you can get, but it makes for a good starting point for the email negotiations. I also used CarWoo in the past, but they've closed down. Edmunds has a similar service, though I haven't tried it.


> To this day, I'm still getting emails and phone calls from some of the dealers I initially contacted and there seems to be no way to make it stop

that's why i always use an different email/google voice for dealing with these sleaz- ahem, persistent salesmen


I bought a Honda Accord and many dealers would not quote by email at all. The remaining dealers quoted a price that did not include a $1000 package of addons that were worth much less (door guards, nitrogen tires, wheel locks, etc.) Every Honda dealer I have seen in this region puts these add-ons on each and every car.

People talk as though the "get quotes by email" thing makes buying a car painless but the simple fact is that it's still a minefield.

My experience with Honda dealers (sales and service) has been so awful that I doubt I will buy another Honda, even though I generally like the car.


I noticed that the window tinting on my car isn't factory tint (some bubbles have started). The Toyota dealer orders cars for the lot with no tinting then they add it themselves. I'm guessing this makes them more money.

The Kia dealer I talked didn't have a car with the upholstery I was interested in and I found out later that the quote they gave me included a charge for taking the car to a local guy and getting the seats re-upholstered.

My wife bought an Acura and so far that dealership seems very good. If they keep treating us right, that's where I'll buy my next car.


I used to get cold calls for after market warranties even when I didn't own a car.


They do.

In all of their items they say: We will share your data with qualified partners.


Are car ownership records public? I was thinking it might be the financing that is public.

I was also thinking DMV records might be public.


I did the same thing when we bought my wife's 328 wagon 2 years ago. I emailed about 5 dealerships with a PDF of the options + msrp and they all got back to me in a day or two. I sent a followup email to the others to see if they wanted to beat the best price I received and they all said they couldn't.

I also ordered mine because we wanted a specific set of options like adaptive cruise control, upgraded sound system, but no navigation and a very specific color combination that we couldn't find anywhere.

Our other car is a Tesla and while I prefer ordering online and checking out with a credit card, emailing multiple dealers was pretty painless.

EDIT: If you're curious why we didn't want navigation, this video explains it pretty well: https://youtu.be/hCDt02UXzkQ Not to mention it's really expensive, hard to input destinations, I generally know where I'm going, and phones work great.


I've actually gone back to using a new Garmin standalone device. The screens are huge, don't have issues with data networks not being available, and free up your phone, for phone stuff.


Don't go your phone while you drive.


Hear hear! If you feel you need _any_ phone functions while you're driving, stop, just full on stop, don't pass go, don't collect $200... Just stop, because you're doing something stupid!


Answering an incoming Bluetooth call generally takes fewer steps than tuning the radio.


Now BMW offers Apple CarPlay, might be a reason to buy the upgraded screen. Anyway it's ridiculously expensive for what it is, but it gives them space to negotiate and/or make a profit.


Funny, I just rented an entry level Hyundai Sonata, which has both Carplay and Android Auto, but also is completely entry level in every other way, such as: cloth seats, no sunroof, no keyless entry (remote has a clicker for doors and trunk), no push button start (insert the key and turn like a decade ago), etc.

I was very pleasantly surprised that with the touch-screen, which supported swipe and seemed generally (though not-quite) as responsive as an iDevice, and CarPlay, most of the ugly edges/sharp corners of a typical auto infotainment system were gone, and it generally seemed very good.

I will say that CarPlay has the potential to be very good, but it's still very basic for now, and needs a lot more work before its as good as standard iOS. It was particularly nice, though, to use Apple Maps while listening to music on Spotify!


> it's still very basic for now

I think that's actually a feature, less possibilities to distract a driver with.


CarPlay is not very good. If the car has a good Bluetooth setup I would not pay anything extra for CarPlay:

* the navigation is crippled. You can't even scroll the map. But why could you--you can't even scroll the map on the iPhone.

* it connects only via a cord. Bluetooth connects automatically and wirelessly.

* it is filled with glitches. Sometimes it hangs or pressing buttons does nothing.

* many apps are poorly thought out. For instance the list of stations in Pandora is always in alphabetical order, rather than showing recent stations first, and the only way to change stations is to scroll through this massive list.

I have mostly abandoned CarPlay and use my iPod hooked up by the cord for music, and the phone in a holder for navigation and Bluetooth phone.


You can scroll during navigation in iOS 10. Possibly you also can during CarPlay.


I don't understand this trend of spending 1k for a mattress. Bought this 200$ one and it's the best bed I ever slept in: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005A4OP8Y/ref=oh_aui_sear...


Do you have government/fleet auctions in the US? In Australia, government fleet vehicles are auctioned after a couple of years of use and you can pick up cars before they are grabbed by dealers and topped by margins.

Last car I bought was through an online auction. Didn't actually see the car in person until I went to pick it up.


Yes we have government auctions, I just don't buy into someone else's problems, even though it's significantly less in cost.


Me too! I thought I had a pretty good experience the last time I dealt with one. Low pressure process, they were friendly, and I got a good deal. Then I bought a new car and attempted to trade that car in. Turns out the dealership had filed my title with a lien on it as if I had financed the purchase through them, which ended up being a gigantic multi-day hassle talking to the dealer, to the car company's financial arm, and to the local DMV office.


The thing is, we almost had this already with Saturn. There were dealerships, but all the cars had fixed prices- no haggling- so it was almost direct-to-consumer, with a bit of added tax for the useless middleman. It was great! But it built up too much resentment at the rest of GM so it had to be killed. It sucks that we're just now starting to get the future we already had, but better late than never.


Yup, thankfully Tesla is carrying on that torch. Went from Saturn -> Tesla and the new purchase experience was very similar(aside from ordering the Tesla on a website).

I think Saturn showed that the model most consumers want is going to have to come from a non-incumbent who doesn't have the baggage of existing dealers.


I went to Saturn back in the day. I also knew someone that worked there. My impression was of a cold environment that did not entice me to compromise $20k on a vehicle.

So, although I believe the model is appealing to some (or many), I do like the guiding hand of a salesperson to help me navigate many makes, models and options. It's more of a personal choice, and definitely it's unnecessary for say Teslas. I feel the car salesperson is not just something to be disrupted and eradicated, but to evolve into a more modern counterpart, like the people at shift.com.

OTOH, car dealership mafias should definitely die.


> So, although I believe the model is appealing to some (or many), I do like the guiding hand of a salesperson to help me navigate many makes, models and options.

Then you should pay for someone to offer you that service. He would be more likely to be impartial too.


"I do like the guiding hand of a salesperson to help me navigate many makes, models and options."

A good salesman would be good for this. My last salesman did not know how to operate the in-dash entertainment system. Information-wise, I would have been better off ordering my car from a kiosk.


I never understood the appeal of Saturn. I mean, every dealership has the option of "no-haggle" if you walk in and pay the sticker price.


Saturn's sticker price was fair - as opposed to other car makes having their sticker price as "we would make a killing if someone bought it at this price."


Some individual dealers are no-haggle with "fair" (discounted of MSRP). Some brands may be as well--Scion possibly?

The problem is that people love to complain but a lot will simply walk if they go into a dealer and are told the price is the price. There are also still financing and trade-in games that most people don't have the luxury of simply ignoring--in part because they're trying to get themselves into a car they can't really afford.


While a generally agree that dealerships are awful I think the service they provide is the test drive. Car companies don't want to spend money managing "drive centers" all over the world. Since dealerships provide this "service" to them they must in turn ensure that the dealerships can survive by keeping them the most common place to buy a car. If they did all of their sales online the dealerships would go out of business.


Yet Tesla maintains "drive centers" all over the place.

Also, if it weren't such a racket, you would have a single drive center that sold Chevy, Mazda, Toyota all in once place, and then the dealerships wouldn't have to worry about sending people there. They would compete for people's business.


This single drive center you speak of sounds like an airport rental car facility :)


Pretty much. If they would add a knowledgeable salesperson who knows the pros and cons of the different brands they'd be all set!


I always thought the dealership system was mandated in the US to prevent companies from selling a car but not providing any required maintenance for it. With dealerships, they're required to give someone else the repair guides.

Obviously there's much better ways this could've been doneā€¦


Kind of. I like centralized service though. I can take my Toyota into any Toyota dealership in the US and they can bring up all the service records on my car. Within the 100k mile warranty every Toyota dealership has to fix, for free, any issue I have that isn't glass, brakes, tires, or body. It's a pretty substantial perk.


You need the dealership to handle the trade-in of your used vehicle. Selling to a private buyer can be (but isn't always) a pain.


You can also go to a business like Car Max which will give you a quote for your used vehicle which is good for 7 days. Take the quote with you when going to buy a new car. If the dealer doesn't want to match the Car Max quote as trade-in value, then don't trade in, and sell your car to Car Max.


And/or if you drive cars until they have very little value like I do, just look up the Bluebook value and donate it if you can't get something in the ballpark of your tax deduction from the dealer.

The bottom line is that if you have a figure in mind that's a hard floor, you can just say no; no bargaining required.


Selling it yourself can also get you more money for the old car. If the dealer gets to couple the two deals, they can come down $3000 (say) on the price of the new car, if they can rip you off $3000 on the price they give you for the used one.


+1 me too, of course.

The problem, unfortunately, as we learned through some of Tesla's struggles, is that car dealerships are deeply embedded in a bunch of localities through legislation. There are literally written into law as the way consumers needs to buy cars.

So the tough part here is that we consumers would LOVE a better way, but it's going to be a while before this takes nationwide. A few progressive municipalities will, I'm sure, adopt (and make it legal to buy via Amazon Cars), but don't hold your breath for the death of car dealerships in the next ~10 years.

(PS - I deeply hope I'm wrong.)


This matches my understanding too. According to Sen. Warren's book 'A Fighting Chance', the dealers lobby was able to get significant exemptions added for themselves when financial regulations were being discussed in 2013 [1]. One of these was the ability to change the rate of a loan after the sale is done.


Craigslist has offered direct-to-consumer sales of cars for years. Car dealerships are a relic already as far I'm concerned


This is what Tesla does.


I think it would be great to buy a car from Amazon. The WYSISYG pricing is something missing from car buying. Negotiating a car price can be a lot of fun if you're a good negotiator, but people who aren't might love this.

It also gives you a tool for negotiating if you DO plan to take the offer in to a local dealership.


Oops. Beaten to the punch.

---

In the used-car market, this is what CarMax does.[1]

[1]: https://www.carmax.com/car-buying-process/why-carmax


Forgot to note that it was only for the used-car market, but would also be great for the new car market.


> The WYSISYG pricing is something missing from car buying.

You can do this on most manufacturer's sites. Just configure the vehicle and print out the result. Unless it's an extremely hot vehicle, they will give you that price since most people are trying to haggle below that price.

The real problem is inventory. You're not likely going to find one with exactly what you want, and you can order one at that price but then you're 1-4+ months before it arrives. That's fine if you've got a lease ending soon and can plan for it, but when I buy a new car it's usually because my current car has a problem and I can't really wait more than a month.

They need to figure out how to shorten lead times (perhaps making more options dealer installed), or change the way inventory is ordered/stored so Dealers aren't all ordering the same thing (which I don't blame them for doing).


Dealer installed options can be problematic,

My dad's last car had some dealer installed trim applied to the door sils, they drilled holes to mount the trim, and didn't properly re-seal the metal, so it rusted.

Dealer installed radio in a previous car had faulty wiring.

Friend had a car where the dealer had replaced the normal badge with the premium hood ornament. Rust again.


Apparently dealers are selling cars like hot cakes nowadays, because the last few times I went to a dealership and tried to get a discount they wouldn't really budge. When you threaten to walk, they say "Well.... bye!" A few years ago, they would practically sell for less than cost. So, yea a service that gives you a WYSIWYG price sounds pretty good these days.


Do manufacturers not advertise prices in the US? Right now I can go to UK site for Mercedes, or Audi, or any other manufacturer, click on a model, and the website will show me a price for a new car + pricing on all options. I know I can walk into any dealership and they will sell the car for that exact price. What am I missing here?


You're missing that a lot of people (here and elsewhere) want a fixed price but they want that fixed price to be what you'd get if you bargained down the price from MSRP.


Carmax does exactly that and is pretty big nowadays..


This will be a... clarifying moment for eBay. I make my living on eBay and gross about 10x the average USA wage. Used stuff is involved. eBay once loveed people who bought and sold used stuff. They are one of the biggest used car venues in the world. They want to sell new stuff and become Amazon. Now Amazon is beating eBay on its own turf. Maybe eBay will have to remember their roots and start taking care of both its sellers and its end users in the used stuff sector.


Absolutely, ebay dug their own grave by treating its sellers poorly. I think amazon is also digging their own grave by becoming ebay, but more because the customers are expecting amazon customer service and keep getting referred to lousy third party sellers to fix problems. Third party sellers on amazon are often gaming the review system and even selling counterfeit products, not something amazon customers are expecting when they think they're ordering from the online equivalent of wal-mart.


You make about $300k/yr by selling used items on eBay? Consistently?


in my experience if a commentor just has to let you know how much they are making, they are lying or not telling the whole truth. welcome to HN.


More than that ($500k) for 9 years. Sorry, will not reveal niche. Douche move, I know


Sorry, but an unverifiable income brag is effectively made up from the perspective of readers. "I just click ads all day and make $5k a week" is basically the same thing.


My dad was making fantastic money on ebay selling used items, but that was only because he had a cheap source of them - we have a company that sells second hand clothing, but the thing is, when you buy a truckload of second hand clothes, it comes with all sorts of crap that people give away to charities - watches, jewelery, shoes, toys, handbags, electronics, board games, books, etc etc etc. So we bought it for say(not a real value) $1/kg, but then my dad would put all of it on ebay. Thousands and thousands of items per month. Since we were buying per weight but selling individually, the profit on it was huge, and you wouldn't believe what sort of nonsense people would buy - old broken watch from a brand no one ever heard about for $5? Sold!


:)

I have bought and old broken alarm clock off of eBay for parts to repair one with sentimental value to my father. So I can definitely see the watch thing.


Where's the one-click button? :)

Seriously though, if I were in the market for buying a car I would love to use Amazon. I wonder what the restrictions are for them to register as a dealership in each state...


People seem to be missing the point. You can't actually buy cars on amazon (at least not yet) its just a shopping tool where it lists details, reviews, and msrp


People aren't missing the point. The parent comment directly recognized that you can't buy the vehicle from Amazon.


This is going to make dealers very nervous. Right now dealerships have all sorts of legal protections ... but as Uber and then self driving cars take over, these antiquated protections are slowly going to disappear.


Has anyone used Costco to buy a new vehicle? Their program isn't direct or anything, but you're supposed to get better prices than working with a dealership directly.

I've been curious how much below invoice they are. The closest one is 4 hours away from me, so I'm not a member (and can't see prices).


I used to work for the group that operates this service. They claimed that the prices were the lowest possible about 95% of the time. People would often say that they negotiated a lower price on their own, but this was more often due to them choosing a different vehicle or not following the process (never underestimate a car salesperson). I did not look over prices very much myself, but they could vary greatly between dealerships in different parts of the country.


I went through Costco's vehicle program last year when we bought our Toyota Sienna (used). It was pretty painless and we got a good deal on the van. Definitely worth checking out.


We weren't overly impressed. Costco price was ~$2k above what we ended up negotiating separately.


Did you bring your own financing, did you let the dealer find you the best deal? A lot of dealers bump the APR on your loan and get the majority of that higher APR back from the lender as a finders fee.


I have. It was right at the introduction of the redesigned model year so people that wanted to be one of the first to own the car were paying roughly MSRP. Costco got me to GM Supplier pricing and a $700 Costco cash card with zero negotiation needed from my side. Salesperson honored it with no hesitation. I was also able to stack Manufacturer discounts (GM Cashback and GM Private Offer) so when all said and done I paid just a little under invoice.


I used Consumer Reports car buying service for a new Toyota Prius. Two local dealerships submitted offers but couldn't find am exact match. Dealerships then attempted bait and switch (successfully). For two summers I was irritated every time I sweat in my car without tinted windows because I wouldn't pay $350 additional for their tint. But it was probably a better deal than I would have negotiated myself.


costco doesn't show members tje prices. You will be referred to the dealership where they give you the pricelist. I've done this once and it saved me a lot of time.

On other hand you can always ask for "costco" price in the dealership, would they honor it I don't know.


tried to get a quote from Costco but it wasn't really that great.. abou the same quote i got from simply emailing a dealership



I wonder if once Tesla fights back all the local monopoly regulation around dealerships, this will naturally transition to an online car dealership. They'll have to figure out test drives though.


easy. just crowdsource the test drives.


Car owners volunteer their cars for test drives and get a kickback if the customer purchases that model? Essentially crowd sourced micro-commissions, that's brilliant.


I think you'd have to give a small kickback just for the test drive, but if the owner goes with them (and presumably does a good job selling them on the car) then the owner gets a bigger commission for a sale.

I would actually prefer this to a dealership since a real owner probably knows that one car he/she drives everyday way better than the lazy sales guy who is trying to sell 10 different models and rarely drives them himself.


I dunno have you seen the average person take a car for a test drive? Half the times they don't really want to buy it and just want to play with it. I don't know that I would want tens or hundreds of people in my [figurative] Tesla, possibly beating it up only for a chance at some sort of small kickback.

Then again I didn't think Uber could work and now I take them all the time so who knows!


The kickback has to be large enough to make it worthwhile. You might not do it for $100, but maybe for $1000?


Maybe? Depends on what the ratio shakes out to be. If I have to let 10 people drive my car then maybe. 20? Probably not worth my time. This will also raise insurance rates as you have to be covered for other drivers on your vehicle.


Personally I find driving a car from Getaround for a little while more illuminating than a dealer test drive.

OTOH, this doesn't do much for specific used cars.


That's a good thought. Seems as if it's happening: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12362457


I note that Tesla is one of the brands listed on Amazon.


Serious question. What exactly is new here? I've used the My Garage to buy part from amzn before. Did they add a new homepage for My Garage? Some of the comments are suggesting this is a one-click direct car shopping but doesn't seem to be. Just wondering if I missed something.


How do they already have so many reviews and content for this? Private Beta? Pulled from other sources?


They've had the ability to leave review for months now on their "Your Garage" page.


I viewed some of the reviews. They appear to be spammers or testers. For example,

Five Stars

By wangchengxuan on July 21, 2016

lalala


The reviews for the car I looked at (Honda Fit 2008) all looked legit.


Good question + 1.


I was just wondering yesterday, if there is a service out there, which would let me see the type and model of cars which are popular, and most-bought? I assume there must be such a dataset available somewhere through government sources? Or perhaps not. Such a data could be a valuable service based on crowd's wisdom. Amazon here seems to provide public comments, which is generally available via Google.


I doubt the government has any data, there's no need or desire for dealers to send them info on their sales. Look at things like Consumer Reports who go out and survey large audiences of everyday people to see what they purchased, how much they paid, how much they like the car, etc.


Doesn't the licence plate database include the make and model?


Government would have data for tax reasons.


Also would be handy to make sure you're buying something with good parts availability.


For the USA you can find that data here. http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/p/sales-stats.html


That's it. Thanks.


Likely not helpful, however it is possible to check registration records in Germany (Europe?). Isn't there a way to check these in the US too? Is the type of car recorded (and on which administrative level)?

If you could get these info and subtract cars previously registered, a blurred picture of recent sales should emerge.


How do I buy one? I don't see an "add to cart" button anywhere.


From my understanding, Amazon Vehicles isn't (as yet) about buying cars, but about selling you the parts and accessories for the vehicles that you do own. Here's their 'Garage' page:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/your-garage/

From the surrounding comments, it seems they do something similar with home appliances and photography equipment.


Via the aptly named Amazon Dash buttons* or by saying "Alexa... I wish I had a red Ferrari."

* keep away from pets and small children


I'm imagining somebody saying "Alexa..." and then playing Skee Lo "I Wish" and getting just a multitude of things shipped to their home.


At least they'll only ship one at a time.


It's unlikely they'll add an add to cart button any time soon. They could work out deals to refer you to local dealers, however.


"like hell Tesla is going to be the only one selling cars online"


Not sure how they would pull off new vehicles though. I'm pretty sure existing dealers would take the manufacturers to court if they made amazon a dealer who could sell cars in their exclusivity region. Tesla on the other hand is the manufacturer so they can do it (where legal).


I was hoping for Volvo Amazon vehicles :)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volvo_Amazon


There'll be a lot of people saying "I'd never buy a car on Amazon"...

The same people that said "I'd never buy a book on the Internet" back in 2000.


In Germany you have a very nice service if you want price transparency before buying a car: http://www.meinauto.de/

Basically, car dealers register their offer on the portal and you can shop without knowing about the dealer. Just at the end, you sign a middle man agreement and the website is forwarding your request to the car dealer.

At the end, you need to travel maybe 300km to get your car, but you get it from a normal dealer with standard guarantees. If you still want to buy at your home car dealer, this gives you a good idea of the discount you could try to negotiate.


For high value items like vehicles reverse auctions can work, as long as you can specify what you want and are not too emotionally attached to the model that you want http://blog.marketdojo.com/2016/03/buying-a-car-via-auction....


Didn't they actually have a car sales service at one time? It seems like I remember them doing something with this about 15 years ago.


Kind of. They partnered with Nissan to deliver a car to somebody in a huge box; it was never meant as a continual or long term thing just a marketing stunt.

Here is a truly horrid video about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yISx15OYogU


Now, if they delivered one of these via Prime ...


In the not-too-distant future: "Amazon now largest car dealer in the US, and fleets of Amazonian drones flying cars across the country are now a common sight. Fatalities from dropped cars are down 25% on the previous quarter. More news at 11".


Or, self-driving cars deliver themselves, perhaps.


Soon we'll rent cars, like we rent books. :)


Many folks do just that. It's called "leasing". ;-)


Why lock yourself into a lease? I can rent a private car w/ chauffeur right from my phone.


Someday we'll be able to rent a car and a driver, just long enough for the trip!


What do you mean? Rent for free with governmental subsidy? Rent for small recurring fee?


Does anyone know if they'll do Amazon Associates on a car sales? 5% of the purchase price would be very nice indeed.


Boy, good thing Amazon does not need to ship them with USPS. "Pime Drivers" will drive them to your door steps.


Hah! When I worked at Amazon, we occasionally used to joke that the only thing you couldn't buy in the Automotive and Industrial department was actual cars. That discrepancy has now been corrected :)

[edit] Aw. No, it hasn't: this is just a way to "See specs, read reviews, and ask owners" about vehicles. Pity.


You can't actually buy a car, but could this be a prelude to a near future when you can?


Was anyone else expecting this to be an announcement of an Amazon self-driving car project?


I wonder how long it will take until you can buy a house on Amazon.


You used to be able to buy a house out of the Sears catalog. Of course, some assembly was required.


Redfin would do this first.

Since they have a fair number of listings, I'm waiting for them to offer something where the buyer gets a substantial discount for buying it directly from the Redfin agent, without using a buyer's agent. Next step would be to sell listings exclusively through Redfin and not through the MLS, though this would be riskier.


I think this was the original business plan of Zillow & Trulia - they wanted people to list without the help of agents. It never really became successful enough so they sold out.

I don't understand how agents can charge 6% in America when they charge 1 or 1.5% in the UK.


It is rare to see a buyers agent earning their 3% in the US. The amount of information and tools available to consumers is nearly in parity with agents. The more hands-on you are with the process, the less value the agents bring. They can still provide value in competitive markets or through complex deals, but your inspector and lawyer are the ones doing the real work.


There are a few places that charge 1% up here in Canada, but they are more the exception than the rule. It's still insane, and given how little effort some realtors put in, it's quite shameful. Even giving someone $3,000 (1% of a $300,000 house) seems like a huge amount of money for the little amount of work they do.


You can negotiate the commission if you will do more of the legwork. Also you can do it without an agent.


Real estate is a highly regulated industry. Americans prefer assurance and insurance and the high costs associated with them in exchange for 100% peace of mind (or someone to sue if things take an unexpected turn).

As such, real estate agents need to be highly informed and often rigorously certified. This has the dual effects of raising costs to offset their own, and it also shrinks the potential labor pool, which has the expected outcome of higher wages.


RedFin already has lower rates then most real estate agents. We bought and sold a house with them last year and we got a check back from them for part of their fee a week after closing on the buy side.


Amazon Hookers & Weed. (In the appropriate states of course!)


Don't laugh! We actually pitched weed delivery as an Amazon service while working there, but we were quickly advised that bezos didn't want to get into marijuana, so we dropped it before going into OP1...


buying a house without looking at it in person first? might not be the best idea..


Oh awesome, I can't wait to buy a knock off truck from "Ford-Motors" that has a handful of fake 5-star reviews and doesn't meet safety standards. Thanks, Amazon!

(See here for explanation: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11939829)


The last few things I've bought from Amazon were all knockoffs--Hanes socks that wore out and the fabric pilled up immediately and gave me blisters, boxers, sunglasses, etc. Pretty disappointing. Now I try to avoid any Prime products fulfilled by third parties, but I'm not sure if buying directly from Amazon mitigates the risk.


So many 5 star reviews.


I would think if you're dropping tens of thousands of dollars for a product, you'd be satisfied with it or convince yourself you're satisfied.


I don't really get what this is - if I want to find parts for my car, I can just type something like '2012 Honda Accord Wipers'

I already have my car in my 'garage', they've had that functionality for years.


It will surprise many that this is already a thing. e.g., vroom.com


Is there something like this for buying new cars online? I thought I something a while back about a company like this working directly with dealerships selling new cars but I can't find it now.

I'm planning on buying an EV car this year for the tax benefits, but I'm dreading the dealership.


Carvana ?


Maybe that was it. Looks like they only do used as well, but I might have been mis-remembering about new cars being available.


Waiting for the time that I can referral link a car purchase.


I don't believe those ratings. I was looking at Ram truck ratings the other day from (from an unbiased site) and they were 1.5/5.


Why do you think Amazon is biased?


What's the "unbiased site"?



I couldn't find any Trabants for sale. Lame.


Ever since CarWoo bit the dust I've been hoping for some actual innovation in this space. Let's hope this is it!


CarWoo wasn't exactly innovative. It was another middleman between you and the dealers that sold the cars. They had to be careful to not be too aggressive or they would lose their dealer partners. There are already multiple innovative companies out there acting as entirely online direct to consumer vehicle dealers. Just google buy a car online.


I just added two Bentley's and a Porsche to my online garage, since I'll never have these in my real garage.


no motorcycles? :(


Same question. Hopefully they are going to extend it soon, I see no reason why bikes are left out


Getting through "The Everything Store" right now, and, yep. Wow.


A number of people have commented about the quality (or its lack) of Amazon's "this fits/doesn't fit your car" data. Let me explain a little about how that works:

In North America, this fitment data conforms to a popular (but not the only) schema called ACES (Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard). It's a long and pretty well-defined XML schema that specifies things like year, make, model, and all kinds of attributes like engine configuration, fuel type, wheelbase, etc., as well as brand name, part number, quantity, and so on. Fitment data providers create an XML document according to this schema and populate it based on the products they say fit particular vehicles.

For example, say you are the manufacturer of a FRAM oil filter (FRAM is a common aftermarket filter brand in the US). It has a part number A123. You know it fits the 2000-2010 Honda Accord with engine XYZ. You add to your fitment XML document an entry for this filter that specifies brand=FRAM, partnumber=A123, parttype=oil filter, years=2000-2010, make=Honda, model=Accord, engine=XYZ. Now, you (or some 3rd party you designate that specializes in turning your catalog of products into fitment data), sends this fitment document on to companies that care about fitment information because they are selling your FRAM oil filter and want to be sure their customers can tell if it will fit their car or not (Amazon, Ebay, Rock Auto, etc.).

They take that fitment data and join it against their product database and out pops the yes/no fitment data you see on their website.

Now scale it up: there is no requirement that only one company produce these fitment records. Anyone else can produce a fitment record that says all the above, but for the 2000-2010 Honda Civic. Maybe that's a mistake, but as a receiver of the fitment data, Amazon or Ebay can't know it's a mistake--they can only presume the fitment data they are given is valid.

Now, complicate it further by adding the human element: e.g. some fitment data providers have fitment data in Excel spreadsheets. Some poor human fat-fingered that data from the spreadsheet into XML and maybe they left off the leading 0 on all the part numbers (because that's Excel's default for number cells). Oops. Now none of those fitment records will match to any parts in the database of the companies that sell them. Or they're entering this data off a piece of paper and can't tell if that's a 0 (zero) or an O (oh). Oops.

Or, worse: the fitment provider gets the wrong vehicle ID (because the schema is all based on IDs, not human-readable names) and submits fitment data that says that FRAM filter fits a 2000-2010 Tesla Model S. Well, that's extremely unlikely, but the receiver of the fitment data is a machine and the machine doesn't know that is completely ridiculous.

Or equally bad: the fitment provider says it fits a 2000-2010 Honda Accord, but doesn't specify the engine type at all. Now, Amazon's machines see that and think "the customer only needs to tell me their year, make, and model". A smart human knows it also needs the engine configuration, but the machine can't easily know that because none of its data specifies an engine configuration is needed for fitment. So Amazon sends out the filter because its data says "it fits!" and the customer is unhappy.

So, in the end, the customer is displeased because Amazon shipped them an oil filter that can't possibly fit their car, even though it told them it would because they can only go on what the data tells them.

A closely related problem is that sometimes a seller will have a product that they know should require fitment data (like an oil filter), but there has been no fitment data submitted for it. In that case, the company can neither say it fits, nor it doesn't fit--it doesn't have enough data to make the determination. This is common as the new model-years start to hit the marketplace: the car exists; you can buy it; you can buy parts for it; however, the aftermarket fitment data hasn't caught up with the car's attributes yet. It also happens when Amazon has fitment data for some models but not for others, even if the part will fit those other models--without data saying so, there's no way to say "yes that will fit your new 2017".

To complicate it even further, if you're talking about this stuff outside of North America, there are other schemas and data providers with very little overlap of the NA offerings. This is visible in the very different fitment experience you see in most EU countries on Amazon (for example, try https://www.amazon.co.uk/auto and select a car).

The takeaway? Unhappy customers result when you have complex data quality problems, and sometimes it's no fault of the implementation at all.


Will the Associates program pay commissions for this??? If so.....


Where does this leave the likes of Edmunds, AutoTrader etc.?


Self-driving car market research under the cover?



Can we buy car engines?


Psh, no Prime delivery?


Where are the Teslas?


I would like an Amazon Prime Air to deliver my new car plz.


Killer URL. /s Would it kill them to add a route?


They need VR


where's the lease offer?


So if I buy the car with my amazon card, I get 3% back? woot!




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