Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has revealed its car vending machines that are heading to Nanjing and Shanghai.
In North America, the car buying process has a pretty bad reputation with being lengthy, filled with negotiations and opportunities to price check against multiple dealerships for the best deal. And while Tesla is trying to buck the trend of traditional dealerships, the automotive market in China is making the car buying process easy as can be. This isn’t the first time we have heard of a company developing vending machines for the Chinese market, but this one comes from Alibaba, a company that knows a thing or two about selling products to the mass market.
According to a video shared by Alibaba on its new car vending machines, which strangely have a cat theme, interested buyers can take a three-day test drive of a vehicle before purchasing it. They however, must have a score of over 700 with China’s Zhima Credit system, along with being an accredited Alibaba Super Member. From there, they simply select a vehicle from the app and head over to one of the Super Test-Drive Centers. From there, the prospective buyer will be confirmed through facial recognition or a login code and then they can take the car for a three-day test drive or to simply buy it and take it home.
If this sounds like an easy way to get a free three-day car rental, the company is limiting the program to one test drive of each model, and no more than five test drives in the first two months of the program. Automakers interested in participating include Audi, BMW, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo.
Although there are only two car vending machines to start, Alibaba has plans to open dozens more across China, most of which are scheduled to be built within the next 12 months.
“Our thinking behind the Car Vending Machine is focused on helping users solve certain problems they face in the car-buying process,” said Huan Lu, marketing director of Tmall’s automotive division. “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 all mainstream brands at once.”