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article imageFord and Alibaba partner to open 'car vending machine' in China

By Karen Graham     Mar 26, 2018 in Technology
Car shoppers in Guangzhou, China now have the ability to buy or try a car using a smartphone app and a car vending machine. The facility came out of a partnership signed two years ago between Ford Motors and Alibaba.
The multi-story building in Guangzhou, China is called the Super Test-Drive Center and is the culmination of a partnership that was announced at the end of 2017.
Reportedly, the idea is to make buying a car a "fun experience," and do away with the fast-talking car salesman. Or it just may be another sign that we are sliding rather quickly into a future where interacting with another human being won't be necessary for making decisions on what we purchase.
The arrangement between automotive giant, Ford Motors and retail behemoth Alibaba gives both companies plenty of space to promote their particular products. The vending machine building will house 42 vehicles, and a customer can view the automobiles, as they revolve in a wheel-like fashion until the car they like is found.
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Users will have their pick of 10 different models, ranging from the Mondeo through to the Explorer — and even an imported Mustang. Thanks to Alibaba's vast store of consumer data, customer choices have been carefully studied to provide a proper selection.
Once a customer finds the car they want, all they need to do is pay the necessary fees using Alibaba's Tmall app and share a selfie to get their hands on the vehicle. They can take the vehicle for a three-day test drive before returning it to the machine for someone else to have a go.
Tech Crunch notes that the service taps into Alibaba’s network, including user's profiles, and provides potential buyers with discounts and incentives based on their use of Alibaba's platform.
Bottom line? Customers can then make a decision to buy the car or choose another one to test drive. There is also a limit of five test drives a month. Alibaba now plans to extend this vending machine service across China.
Another part of the partnership is Alibaba's demand that Ford develops 15 hybrid car models for sale in China by 2025. Many industry experts say this would give Ford further incentive to push ahead with its EV adoption.
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Car vending machines, not a new idea
Actually, car vending machines date back to 1905, when the first system appeared. That system evolved to hold hundreds of cars, but mechanical problems halted any advances in the technology. There are advantages to storing vehicles this way, though. There is less theft and chance of damages and the whole setup uses less space.
Founded in 2012, Carvana is a technology business start-up based in Phoenix, Arizona, and is an online-only used car dealer that allows customers to shop, finance, and trade in cars through their website.
Carvana offers both nationwide delivery or the option for customers to pick up their vehicle purchases at one of the company's car vending machine locations after completing the purchase online.
More about Ecommerce, Vending machine, Ford motor company, Alibaba, carvana
 
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