Alibaba, Ford unveil auto vending machine in China

Posted March 28, 2018

Customers also have the option to test other cars after that.

The launch is the pilot collaboration between Alibaba Group, which owns Tmall, and Ford since they announced a partnership last December. Now, the companies have opened a cat-themed auto vending machine in Guangzhou, China, that lets customers easily test-drive Ford vehicles they're looking to buy.

"To do that, we are building a physical, experiential store that offers staff-less auto pickup through facial recognition, three-day 'deep" test-drives and a one-stop-shop that displays [cars from] all mainstream brands at once, ' he added. All users have to do is pay a fee through Alibaba's Tmall app and then take a selfie through the app to confirm the booking. Then, when they arrive at the machine, it will verify their identity before the vehicle is delivered.

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With an eye to a core audience, a Ford executive said on Alibaba's news site that the aim is to have auto shoppers try Ford vehicles, and "ultimately" buy the vehicle at a Ford dealership.

Buying a Ford vehicle in China is about to get incredibly futuristic.

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Wanguo added: "Consumers can use the internet to access more accurate, convenient services and get a deeper understanding into particular vehicles". The job it does is the same, however, with the vending machine, which has a capacity of 42 cars, spitting out rides for prospective buyers. While sales growth last year slowed considerably to 3% year-on-year from the 13.6% seen in 2016, carmakers in the USA and Europe have been shifting strategies to attract consumers in a country that still accounts for 30% of total global vehicle sales.

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Alibaba is no stranger to selling cars online and via mobile apps: in 2016, a flash sale on its site saw 100 Maserati cars sold in 18 seconds.

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.

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