A Carvana vending machine in Frisco, Texas. Photographer: Laura Buckman/Bloomberg

What happens to the car dealership—that century-old intermediary between automakers and consumers—in the age of Amazon?

It’s a question that has launched a raft of startups in the auto retail space and spurred existential anxiety among established dealership chains. Amazon.com Inc. has been making inroads, launching a car research and review website in 2016 and working with Hyundai Motor Co. and tire-installer Monro Inc. this summer. Tesla Inc., by far the biggest all-electric manufacturer, doesn’t work with dealers at all, preferring a business model built around showrooms and online ordering.

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