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Amazon.com Gets Greenlight on Car Sales

Just one week after seeing its Living.com partner slide into the primordial dot-com ooze, Amazon.com said Wednesday it was hitching a ride with Greenlight.com on a jaunt to sell new cars.

The firms pledged to make buying cars online easier by offering Amazon's 23 million shoppers access to Greenlight's services, which is known for its no-haggle pricing and one-stop shopping for convenient financing and trade-in options, among other conveniences.

The exclusive Amazon.com/Greenlight.com service will be available Thursday in 27 markets, representing over 70 percent of the e-commerce population in the U.S., including such major markets as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Amazon's Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, eternally optimistic about opportunities in e-commerce, said the deal is a win-win situation for all parties who partake in the service -- customers, dealers and manufacturers.

"By combining our local dealer network with a simple and convenient online buying site, consumers will be able to feel great about buying a car through Amazon's exclusive new cars partner, Greenlight.com," said Joel Manby, CEO of Greenlight.com, and a veteran in the car retail industry, having worked for Saturn and Saab.

Alison Wagonfeld, senior vice president of marketing and business development for Greenlight.com, told InternetNews.com Wednesday that, after conducting numerous research, Greenlight.com found that people overall were unhappy in the offline car buying process.

"This is for a number of reasons," Wagonfeld said. "People either think it's too time consuming -- it usually takes a couple of weekends -- or they don't want to deal with a salesmen."

The industry has been abuzz with rumors about Amazon's potential dealings in the car market after it was reported that the e-commerce titan had registered the domain names Usedcarsamazon.com, Newcarsamazon.com, Sellcarsamazon.com, Carclassifiedsamazon.com and Partsamazon.com on June 6, according to a report by the Associated Press, published Aug. 11.

Backed by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Asbury Automotive, Greenlight.com paid the giant e-tailer $82.5 million last January for a five-year promotional deal in which Amazon secured a 5 percent stake.

But are car e-tailers here to stay, or will they go away slip into the ooze with the Living.com's of the world?

Chris Peterson, product manager at Amazon.com, told InternetNews.com Wednesday said he wouldn't comment directly on the demise of Amazon's home furnishings ally and other defunct e-commerce plays, but that online car sales are a revolution in the wings.

"Some people find shopping for cars demeaning," Peterson said, matter-of-factly. "Greenlight.com is a complete, end-to-end shopping experience. Customers can even finance a loan on Greenlight.com without getting the runaround. Now you contrast that with some of these failing dot-coms that didn't add value..."