car vending machine

China’s Alibaba announces plans to open car vending-machine stores in Shanghai and Nanjing. Source:

Alibaba to start selling cars from gigantic vending machines in China

CHINESE e-commerce giant Alibaba has announced plans to open two fully-automated vending-machine stores early in 2018.

This follows the recent announcement that Ford will be teaming up with the e-commerce company in order to enter China’s electric vehicle market. The premise of the vending-machine stores is that a customer’s entire transaction can be handled online, with no need for human interaction.

Upon seeing a car on the street they like, the user then can take a photo of it using the Taobao app. A test drive can then be scheduled through a selfie of the user along with their relevant information.

The next step is to head to your nearest Tmall Auto Facility, where you can verify your identity using facial recognition technology. Your desired car will be automatically delivered from the giant three-storey dispenser, and then the vehicle is yours for a three-day test drive. Unlike traditional dealerships, Alibaba’s vending-machine stores offer consumers a wide range of different brands from which to choose.

Impressed with the car? Well, you can simply make the purchase through your phone, and can even use Alibaba’s payment wing, Ant Financial, to take out a loan. Or if the vehicle does not quite meet expectations, you can return it and choose to schedule another test with a different car.

“Our thinking behind the car vending machine is focused on helping users solve certain problems they face in the car-buying process,” Huan Lu of Tmall told TechinAsia.

“To do that, we are building a physical, experiential store that offers staffless car pickup through facial-recognition, three-day ‘deep’ test-drives, and a one-stop-shop that displays [cars from] all mainstream brands at once.”

Unfortunately, not everyone can take a spin on the giant car vending-machine. Customers must score more than 700 in China’s Zhima Credit System in order to take a vehicle on a test drive. Furthermore, users are limited to five drives in the first two months of signing up.

Alibaba plans to open the two vending locations in January, with one in Shanghai and the other in Nanjig.