DETROIT — Among major auto makers, only Tesla Inc. — which eschews traditional dealerships — offers mobile service for its vehicles. But Amazon customers are familiar with mobile mechanics: They can use the e-commerce site to order vehicle repair and maintenance at their homes and workplaces.
Many car dealerships haven't matched Amazon's mobile service offerings. But that could be changing as service departments look for new ways to stay competitive and profitable.
Amazon, which launched its on-site venture in 2015, contracts with local businesses and independent technicians to provide such services as oil changes, brake replacements and belt changes at residences and offices. It partners with high-profile aftermarket chains, such as Sears Auto Center, Pep Boys and Monro Inc., along with independent shops to perform heavier-duty repairs and tire-and-wheel installations at their stores.
The availability of Amazon's mobile services is geographically spotty, although urban centers are well covered. Adam Goetsch, Amazon's automotive director, says the company "will continue to explore ways to expand service offerings."
The largest provider of mobile auto repair on Amazon is Wrench Inc. of Seattle. The company competes with other mobile mechanic outfits such as YourMechanic Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., and Fiix, of Toronto.
Founded in 2015, Wrench has grown from 25 service technicians and three markets last year to more than 100 technicians and 20 markets today, CEO Ed Petersen said. He noted that the company employs its own technicians and service advisers instead of hiring independent contractors.
Mr. Petersen says his company's mechanics are able to "complete repairs north of 95 percent of the time" on-site. Wrench customers' average bill, he said, is about $450 — on par with charges for comparable work by a dealership service department. Wrench offers a 1-year/12,000-mile warranty.
Although most customers contact Wrench through its own website, Mr. Petersen says Amazon has "without a doubt" helped expand his company's business, adding that the share of jobs that come from Amazon orders is growing. He declined to say what he pays Amazon to appear on the site, but he added that he expects the demand for mobile mechanics to grow.
"Niche expertise delivered to you is where things are heading," Mr. Petersen says.
Audi at your door
Among auto makers, Audi of America agrees.
"The market is going to dictate that we do more things for our customers to help free up their time," said Joe Rood, Audi of America's director of service operations and training.
Mr. Rood notes that some Audi dealerships provide mobile services to preferred customers on an individual basis as an extension of the automaker's roadside assistance program. Such services include tire repair, jump-starts, minor trim replacement and other small jobs, he said.
Audi is looking at setting up a formal home service program as it expands its offerings of electric vehicles.
"Dealing with oil or hazardous materials on-site was something we didn't want to get into," Mr. Rood said. "But with electric vehicles, remote service makes a lot more sense."