Starting next year, and depending on where you live, you’ll be able to add a Hyundai Ioniq 5 to your usual cart full of home gadgets, books and watches on Amazon. And Hyundai Motor America CEO Randy Parker said the automaker has about 150 million reasons to give this plan a shot.
“They’ve got about 150 million Amazon Prime customers, right?”, Parker said in an interview with InsideEVs at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Thursday. He added that many millions more in America alone visit the e-commerce megastore every month. “That’s a huge audience to tap into. And so I think this is a really good partnership to try to revolutionize the industry.”
That partnership will mean Hyundai shoppers will be able to use Amazon to search for Hyundai cars in their area – including gasoline cars, hybrids and its growing portfolio of electric vehicles like the Ioniq 5, Ioniq 6 and Kona EV – check out online with their preferred financing or payment options and then arrange delivery from a local dealership.
“If you want to add accessories, insurance, financing – it’s an end-to-end car buying experience 100% on the platform,” Parker said. “But if you really want to go kick the tires, you still have the option of going straight to the dealership.”
And the “dealership” component of this is important, Parker said. “I don’t want people to think this is going to be direct selling from the [automaker] to the to the consumer. It’s not,” he said. “It’s based on the consumer’s zip code. That will tie them to the closest Hyundai dealer. But to the consumer, it will be seamless, and that’s what’s what’s what’s most important.”
After all, direct selling has become a hot-button issue in the car industry, especially as it moves toward electrification. While Tesla (and subsequently other EV startups like Lucid and Rivian) have always sold to buyers directly, the so-called “legacy” automakers do not have that luxury; they have franchise agreements with their networks of car dealers. And in most places those agreements are enshrined into law, making direct sales especially difficult in some places. In short, for all automakers but the startups, you generally have to buy a new car through your local dealer, and that’s an industry that has long had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age.
What’s more, dealers have long been accused of being resistant to the electric vehicle revolution – it means big capital investments into charging, more education for salespeople and buyers and potentially less revenue from parts and maintenance. That’s probably not something Hyundai wants as it aggressively expands its EV lineup.
But Parker said the dealers are an important part of their process here, that going through Amazon is a kind of “bridge” between purely online direct sales and the dealer network Hyundai depends on. What’s more, he said his dealers are actually excited about this; more of them have indicated they want to sign onto the program.
“The first phase is going to be a pilot, and then after that, hopefully we’ll be able to open it up to all dealers,” Parker said. “We’re trying to make it easy for the customer to do business with us.”
This is not the first time Hyundai has thought outside the box a bit on its sales tactics. Its Evolve+ program offers a month-to-month subscription service for certain EVs so that buyers can try the electric life for themselves a bit before committing to a longer ownership term.
Parker added that while some automakers seem to be easing off their once-ambitious EV plans amid concerns of uneven demand, that isn’t the case at Hyundai. The automaker has actually reported strong EV sales every month – with 50% to 60% of buyers opting to lease the Ioniq models to take advantage of the $7,500 tax credit loophole – and it’s full speed ahead on its U.S. EV plant in Georgia. It also has more electric models coming, like the Ioniq 7 SUV.
“I’ve always also been a firm believer in ‘who gets there first wins’, and I don’t want to be a follower,” Parker said.
Contact the author: [email protected]
Read the full article here