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The Future is Here … Is it the Car Vending Machine?

Companies all around the world are picking up on the car vending machine trend.

In recent news, Ford joining with tech giant Alibaba to create a cat-themed car vending machine in Guangzhou, China.

Buyers spend 10 minutes to verify their identity and receive their car from the multi-level structure. Customers are permitted to test drive vehicles up to three days.

Earlier Versions of the Car Vending Machine 

Before the Ford-Alibaba effort, impressive iterations of the car vending machine have been made by the likes of Carvana and Autobahn Motors.

Carvana is a domestic service that consumers use to shop for and purchase cars online. Instead of standard shipping, customers pick up their car by inserting high-tech tokens into glass vending machines located in cities such as Atlanta, Nashville, Houston, Austin and Jacksonville.

Car Vending MachineAutobahn Motors went big instead of going home by opening a 15-story facility in Singapore that holds up to 60 cars. Passersby can purchase a car on the spot using the touchscreen on the ground floor of the building. Purchases arrive in a matter of minutes and Autobahn Motors staff are there to “supervise the full experience” for car buyers.

The New Main Attraction in the Car Vending Machine Sector 

Onto the latest, China’s tech giant Alibaba.

Alibaba used its Tmall ecommerce platform to create a car vending machine that is fully focused on the customer’s test drive experience.

Marketed as “the ultimate try-before-you-buy experience for car shoppers,” Alibaba outlines the following steps involved in partaking the splendid innovation:

  1. Use the Mobile Taobao to scan any car on the street that appeals to buyers.
  2. Find the car model in the app and schedule a test drive with it.
  3. Enter basic user information.
  4. Take a selfie (Alibaba Super Members are not require to place a deposit).
  5. Schedule a test drive.
  6. Visit a Tmall Auto Vending Machine and use facial-recognition technology to pick up the car.
  7. Begin the test drive.
  8. Spend up to three full days test driving car with free reign to go anywhere.
  9. Schedule another test drive, or purchase the car through the Mobile Toabao app.

What are your thoughts? Do you think “vending style” car purchasing is the future of the auto dealership industry? Share your take below.

For more automotive industry news check out our CrossCheck Blog.

                                                 Car Vending Machine

Dave Page

Interested in hearing how the financing or trade-in process would work. Neat idea, but I don't think this can replace the customer service experience car-buyers look for. 

Derrick Woolfson

@Dave, agreed. That and the "pioneer" Carvana has yet to be profitable. I am not a pessimist, however, there are studies that show as much as 85% of today's customers still want to purchase a vehicle at a store. So while the "vending" machine aspect seems "cool" and "modern" it cannot replace a proper demo, in which case the customer I guess is having to figure out all of the options themselves? Especially if the last time they purchased a vehicle was 5-7 years ago! 

As long as they get a proper demo. However, buy from some dealerships and you're better off just watching the OEM videos on YouTube in your driveway once you get home. But I think people want the experience with high ticket items. That will take time to disappear totally. 

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