General Motors Corp. (NYSE:GM), looking to build on the growth in demand for its vehicle trunks to serve as delivery nodes, is exploring expansion opportunities with carriers and retailers outside of its current 13-month relationship with e-tailer Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), a GM executive said in a May 21 interview.
Speaking with FreightWaves, Stephen London, GM’s head of connected vehicle solutions, said the automaker is looking to bring other delivery companies into its network, as well as retailers that want to offer their customers the same level of convenience that Amazon provides members of its “Prime” service. London did not provide details of discussions with either prospective stakeholder group.
In April 2018, GM announced that more than 7 million vehicles in the U.S. that were built after 2015 would be eligible for so-called in-car delivery in conjunction with an Amazon unit that today is known as “Key by Amazon In-Car Delivery.” Prime members who also owned eligible Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles could receive deliveries at various locations as long as they were parked in publicly accessible areas such as a residence, an office parking lot or a street in front of an apartment building. The service, which is free to Prime members, is activated at order checkout on Amazon’s website.
The program began in 37 U.S. markets. It is now available in 50 markets. In addition, virtually all GM vehicles rolling off assembly lines today are equipped with capabilities to enable in-car deliveries, London said. GM manufactured about 8.9 million vehicles in 2018, according to company data.
The service is only available in the U.S., although GM is exploring expansion it into international markets, London said.
Initially, the program was designed to provide added value to GM customers while curbing incidents of “porch piracy” – incidents of theft in which packages delivered by Amazon left outside on a customer’s property only to be pilfered. London declined comment on whether the program has reduced parcel theft, referring that question to Amazon, which also declined comment. Neither company would quantify the parcel traffic delivered to vehicles.
As the initiative evolved, GM officials noticed two trends that it did not consider at the outset, according to London. One was that customers giving a surprise gift to their spouses valued the service as a way to hide the gift in a secure yet hidden space. The other was the reduction in incidents of dogs barking at a delivery person at the front door because the package was instead placed in a location far enough away to not alert the canines, he said.
Recently, GM rival Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) signed up with Amazon for a similar delivery service. In addition, Amazon has launched a program to deliver parcels into the garages of Prime customers.