Amazon.com to sell cars

Amazon.com to launch a new-car-buying service on the internet.

What's next, Realestate.Amazon.com?

That might not be too far down the road, judging by the online giant's announcement today that it is getting into the car business.

Amazon said Wednesday it has formed a partnership with Greenlight.com Inc. and will launch a new-car-buying service on its Web site.

Shoppers on the Amazon.com site will be able to view any vehicle they wish, compare two models side by side and be provided with a personal account manager to handle the financing and trade-in.

Greenlight, which is backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is the online arm of Asbury Automotive Inc., a massive chain of auto dealerships. It offers up-front, no-haggle pricing.

The service will initially be available in 27 markets, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York San Francisco and Washington.

Lots of competition

The new partnership will face stiff competition from a wide array of well-established car-buying services, such as CarPoint.com and CarsDirect.com, as well as from manufacturers' own sites.

Automakers in recent months have taken steps to protect their online territories as more and more buying services have joined the fray.

General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. both sent letters to their dealers this spring warning them that it is a violation of their franchise agreements to sell vehicles to online brokers. Dealers largely applauded the missives, as many of them view online buying services as interlopers trying to take dealers out of the equation.

Amazon didn't give a date for the launch of the new service.