Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba Group and US carmaker Ford have opened up a cat-themed car vending machine in Guangzhou, China after they signed a deal to form a partnership four months ago in December
According to Alibaba's news site, Alizila, the 'Super Test-Drive Centre' offers potential buyers to test drive the car for three days and allow them to choose over 100 Ford cars, including the Explorer SUV, Mustang, Edge and Everest models.
The unstaffed vending machine is about five-storey tall, which houses up to 42 cars and only works with the Tmall app.
Alibaba’s Tmall said in August 2017, that its ultimate goal is to make “buying cars as easy as buying a can of Coke”
To set up a test drive, users select a car model through the Tmall app, schedule a test drive, and snap a selfie, which is used to verify their booking at the car centre
Once the users arrive at the centre, they can pick up the car for a test drive after verifying their identity through a facial-recognition vending machine.
Users are allowed to keep the vehicle for a three-day test drive. If they like the car, they can buy it outright with a 10 percent downpayment and financing through Alibaba affiliates.
The test drives are free, as long as customers are an Alibaba Super Member or have a Zhima credit score of 700 or above.
Zhima is a system based on online and offline data to generate individual credit scores for consumers and small business owners.
According to Wired, users start with a score of 550 when they have no transaction history, with scores ranging from 350 to 950.
The vending machine is only the first of many to come as Alibaba revealed that they plan to build dozens of car vending machines in cities in China in 2018
Tmall's automotive division marketing director Huan Lu said, "Our thinking behind the car vending machine is focused on helping users solve certain problems they face in the car-buying process."
Besides Ford, Alibaba recently announced partnerships with Mercedes-Benz, Maserati, BMW, Audi, and Volvo.
Speaking of vending machines, we have our very own unique vending machines here in Malaysia which offer customers a chance to win prizes ranging from a nail clipper to an iPhone X: