On Monday, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, along with Ford launched the first ever car vending machine in the southern city of Guangzhou.
With a height of over 20 meters, it may be the world's largest vending machine. It can accommodate 42 cars. Alibaba calls it "super-test drive".
To try the Super Test Drive is very simple. Just search Super Test Drive in Chinese in the app, and choose the car that you fall in love with.
Normally it costs 99 yuan, or about 16 US dollars for a three day test-drive. But if you get a score of over 700 points in Alibaba's own credit system, it's all free.
The vending machine uses a facial recognition system to identify the consumer. After confirmation, the chosen car gets lowered onto the ground. Then you can drive it away.
But at the moment, the vending machine is only for test drives. If you really want to purchase a car, you still have to do so at a dealership. Alibaba says it does not intend to challenge the traditional dealership model.
Lu Huan, marketing director of Tmall Auto said, "We're definitely not trying to overthrow the car-buying process via dealerships. We at Alibaba are trying to empower the traditional business, especially the car industry, with our 600 million users and the big data generated on our platform."
Lu said Alibaba's next step is to set up more car vending machines in China's first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
Lu added, "We have the data of 80 million potential customers and 120 million car owners. We can use the big data to help build the data bank, smart stores, etc. Thus we can provides a complete, integrated set of infrastructure plans for the auto brands to better use their national network of dealerships."
China is now waging a new retail revolution. From the unmanned convenience store to this new vending machine, a new future is unfolding.
By Ge Yunfei