Hyundai Just Launched 'Digital Showroom' on Amazon

But customers still can't buy cars online.

Hyundai

Hyundai has launched a "digital showroom" within the greater Amazon Vehicles research hub. Amazon launched the car-buying section of its website in August 2016, but Hyundai is the first automaker to carve out a brand-specific niche within it.

Like the rest of Amazon Vehicles, the new Hyundai portal allows customers to research cars, but directs them to dealerships for the actual purchase. Customers can get vehicle information, rear reviews, see a breakdown of pricing for a model's various trim levels, and book test drives. Shoppers are also directed to HyundaiUSA.com, where they can check local dealer inventories.

The digital showroom also includes videos on Hyundai tech features, such as the automaker's Blue Link telematics services and Amazon Alexa integration, as well as the Shopper Assurance program. This provides customers with perks like flexible test drives and a three-day money-back guarantee. The program helped convince Amazon to direct shoppers to an outside website, something the retail giant wouldn't normally do, Dean Evans, Hyundai Motor America's chief marketing officer, said in an interview with Automotive News.

Hyundai previously partnered with Amazon in 2016 on "Prime Now, Drive Now," which let customers set up personalized test drives through the Amazon Prime Now delivery service. A 2017 Elantra was delivered to a place of each customer's choosing for a 45- to 60-minute test drive.

The poor reputation of car dealerships provides the perfect excuse for shifting car sales online. But, as Tesla has learned with its direct-sales model, franchise laws and powerful car-dealer lobbies are major obstacle to cutting dealerships out of the transaction. By allowing customers to browse online, Hyundai may strike a balance between making car buying less stressful and keeping its dealers pacified.