Ok, so that’s not quite true. You can reserve one of 50 limited edition Toyota Aygo vehicles available exclusively from Amazon by paying a deposit, if you are in Italy.
Even so, that’s quite a radical move and whilst not enough to incite the end is nigh fear among dealers as the online retailer dips its giant toe in the internet new car purchasing waters, it will indeed be interesting to see how consumers respond, which, I guess, explains Toyota Italy’s decision.
In its blog, Toyota GB refers to its sibling market’s promotion on Amazon.it as ‘a unique experiment in online auto retail’.
Called the Aygo Amazon Edition, Italian Amazon shoppers can place a deposit of €100 to reserve one of the cars before 31 December 2015. Once the deposit has been paid, the customer will be contacted by Toyota to arrange delivery at a local dealership. It seems Toyota is playing safe by not handing over the entire sales process to Amazon and ensuring their dealer network is not completely erased from the process. The fact that the Toyota Aygo Amazon Edition costs €12,000, around €3,450 less than the retail price of a similarly equipped model, should ensure take-up.
By covering all bases, it looks like Toyota is keeping everyone happy. Consumers benefit from the convenience and the opportunity to purchase vehicles online or, at least, pay a deposit, as well as to buy via a different channel to the traditional dealer model. Dealers, ever fearful that the internet could indeed deliver what observers have been suggesting for years – that cutting out the middle man is possible and probable, have been carefully included in the transaction process although whether they gain any profit from the deal is unclear. However, the inclusion of the dealer is as much for the sake of the brand as it is the distributor. Toyota will want to ensure the Amazon special edition drivers return to its network for servicing and with the absence of established, wide-reaching and trusted online new car purchase models, when it comes to changing the vehicle, Toyota will want those customers to remain in-brand and that’s still likely to mean a visit to the franchised dealer, even in three or four years’ time. Meanwhile, Amazon has the kudos of ‘selling’ a new car with the backing of the manufacturer.
It does beg the question, through, exactly how radical is this experiment? Effectively, Toyota has created an additional link in the chain. Arguably, the car could have been made available exclusively online via its own website as well as those of its dealers. Perhaps, then, Toyota is testing the water in terms of whether car buyers are more likely to embrace purchasing or part-purchasing new vehicles online via a trusted internet seller. In which case, is the brand laying the tentative foundations for just such a move? Or is it simply a PR stunt?
Interestingly, whilst its blog talked about a ‘unique experiment’, it offered no explanation as to the details of that experiment or the insights the manufacturer hopes to gain. By way of explanation, the blog quotes the manufacturer’s marketing strategy director for Italy who says little more than the need not to ‘overlook the digital world’ and the reason for the Amazon tie-up is ‘because we want our products to be available to everyone at all times’ although we are told the brand also ‘aims to design the future of the automotive market’.
We await to see if this will be just a one off, a toe dipping project or a sign of things to come.