Digital Transformation Sustainability Retail

Alibaba introduces unmanned car vending machine to allow consumers to rent and test drive cars


By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

March 26, 2018 | 4 min read

Alibaba has introduced a car vending machine on Tmall, its online marketplace application, which allows consumers in China to choose from 100 Ford cars for a test drive.

test drive

The ‘Super Test-Drive Center’ is located in Guangzhou and consumers can sign up on the Tmall or Taobao app.

The ‘Super Test-Drive Center’ is located in Guangzhou and consumers can sign up on the Tmall or Taobao app to pick up the selected car through an unmanned car vending machine in the Center and be allowed to test drive the rented car for three days before they decide to make the purchase.

Once a car is chosen, consumers must snap a selfie through the app to ensure they are only person who can take the car from the center, put down a deposit electronically and schedule a pick-up time.

When they are at the Center, customers simply verify their identity with their selfie and the vehicle they selected is delivered from the multi-story car dispensary to the ground floor where the test drive begins.

If they are not totally satisfied, consumers can simply take out another car and can test-drive two vehicles provided they are different models. If they decide to make the purchase after the test drive, they can visit Ford’s retail stores to pay the remaining balance after paying the deposit on Tmall.

Conusmers will also get discounts and other incentives, which are based on consumer insights derived from user activity and history within the Alibaba ecosystem.

This car vending machine is part of Alibaba's strategic alliance with Ford Motors, launched in 2017, to enhance consumer retail experiences and explore solutions for sustainable mobility.

"The auto vending machine is an important step in Alibaba's New Retail push. By leveraging Alibaba's data intelligence and technologies, the auto vending machine and super drive test services can enable auto brand owners and distributors better serve their customers," said Gu Wanguo, general manager of vehicles at Tmall Auto.

Wanguo added: "Consumers can use the internet to access more accurate, convenient services and get a deeper understanding into particular vehicles. In the meantime, we are opening our car vending machine’s infrastructure to the entire industry to leverage and enable their distributors, in hopes of helping upgrade the automotive sector as a whole."

Alibaba also said that similar auto vending machines will be built in Beijing and Hangzhou.

Digital Transformation Sustainability Retail

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Alibaba Group Holding Limited is a Chinese multinational e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI and technology conglomerate founded in 1999.

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The Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. It was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903.

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