Alibaba, Ford unveil auto vending machine in China

Mar 28, 2018, 00:52
Alibaba, Ford unveil auto vending machine in China

Test drives, by the way, come free, but you got to have a very respectable credit score on Alibaba's Zhima credit-scoring service.

The unmanned multi-level auto dispensing system, which was set up earlier this year in January, after a collaboration in December 2017 with American carmaker Ford to sell its EV offerings for the Chinese market in the future, will exclusively offer Ford vehicles, and allow prospective customers to have a comprehensive test-drive of their selected model for up to three days, before arriving at a decision to purchase the auto.

Ford Motor (F) and Alibaba (BABA) unveiled a giant auto vending machine in China, part of an online car-shopping push with far-reaching implications for the automotive industry. The customer also needs to snap a selfie with the mobile app, which is used to confirm his or her booking at the test-drive centre.

When they are at the Center, customers simply verify their identity with their selfie and the vehicle they selected is delivered from the multi-story auto dispensary to the ground floor where the test drive begins. Customers can keep the auto for three days.

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Gu Wanguo, general manager of Vehicles at Tmall Auto, said the auto vending machine is an important step in Alibaba's new retail push.

When it comes time to pick up their vehicle, users enter a small building and visit a kiosk which recognizes them from the selfie they provided earlier.

In December previous year, Alibaba and Ford signed a deal to form a partnership to work together on new technological opportunities.

The multi-story facility, which sports cats' eyes and ears on the roof, can be accessed using Alibaba's Tmall shopping app, the tech site says. The vending machine, which is five stories tall, is now located at that city but the companies plan to bring at least two more to other cities.

Cao Zhenyu, a senior executive at Changan Ford Automobile, a Ford joint venture headquartered in Chongqing, said traditional test drives offered by dealerships are often limited by time, space and available routes.

In case a buyer is not satisfied with their selection, they can also take out one other auto.

Most companies either use over-the-top machines to promote luxury products - like the Ferrari machine in Singapore - or practical ones to sell convenience products - like the crab machine in a Nanjing subway.

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