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Image credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

Amazon will let Italians buy Fiat cars with a click

You still have to visit a dealer to finish the deal, but it's easier than usual.
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Reuters/Gary Cameron

Amazon has made it easier to research cars online, but actually purchasing a car? That's another story. Even a recent deal with Seat in France limited customers to making a downpayment on the web -- they still had to agree to a phone interview to clinch the sale. However, the dream of one-click vehicle shopping just came a bit closer to reality. Amazon is partnering with Fiat to let Italian motorists buy the 500, 500L and Panda on the web at discounts up to 33 percent greater than seen at retail. They'll still have to visit a dealership to complete the purchase, but this is about as direct as it gets if you're not ordering a Tesla.

Orders should be ready about two weeks after you pull the trigger, Fiat says.

This is clearly a competitive move on Fiat's part. While its sales were turning a corner before this (it swung from a loss in Q3 2015 to a profit this year), incentivized online sales could help it keep that edge. You might be more likely to buy a 500 if you can order it from home and get a better bargain. Just don't expect to see dealerships cut entirely out of the loop in the near future. As Tesla learned first-hand, dealers routinely fight attempts to introduce direct sales -- Amazon can get close to that business model, but it faces a backlash if it makes dealerships obsolete.

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