DETROIT -- Amazon.com Inc. is expanding its transportation prowess to do virtually everything short of building a car.
While Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has said little publicly about the company's automotive ambitions, the strategy is aimed at leveraging Amazon's strengths in logistics, cloud computing and digital services together with new interests in related fields from robotics to manufacturing, according to more than two dozen people, including Amazon executives and industry executives familiar with the strategy, and a Reuters analysis of Amazon's patent activity.
With these new investments and alliances up and down the auto supply chain -- and by hiring key auto industry veterans and amassing a robust patent portfolio -- Amazon is positioning itself to challenge corporate customers and partners ranging from United Parcel Service Inc. to Uber Technologies Inc.
For a graphic on Amazon's transportation ecosystem, click here.
Businesses such as Amazon Web Services and Fulfillment by Amazon started as internal efforts to cut costs and improve efficiency in serving consumers, and later expanded to corporate customers. But companies working closely with Amazon also risk losing business to the online retailer as its transportation expertise grows, according to some analysts and industry insiders.
Corporate customers "should be very scared" of Amazon's move into the dashboard, said John Ellis, a transportation consultant and former global technologist at Ford Motor Co. As consumers pay less attention to horsepower and more to streaming content and services, he expects more consumers "won't really care whether you’re in a Ford or a Chrysler or a Chevrolet or a BMW."
Ned Curic, a former Toyota Motor Corp. executive recruited by Amazon to oversee Alexa Auto in 2017, said in a written response to Reuters that the company is "always looking for ways to more closely integrate Amazon services if we think it'll bring value to the customer."