Vending machines, one of the most popular sources for consumers to buy cigarettes, drinks, sandwiches etc., has all of a sudden leaped forward to provide people with an option to buy cars from similar terminals. This type terminal is known as a Car Vending Machine or Vehicle Vending Machine.
You may wonder how a vending machine on a street can provide people the facility to buy cars, but with the recent development in engineering and technology, this has been made possible and much easier too.
Let us give you a bit of background information before we come to the main topic at hand here. You may have heard of the Automated Parking System (APS) working in different cities, for example, the Skyline Parking. The concept of automated car parking is to park cars or other transports (bicycles, bikes etc.) in the least space possible while keep the parking and retrieving system automated. Now the same concept is being used to create and maintain the car vending machine, which works as an automated terminals to provide people with vehicles to buy.
Although it is common knowledge that the first organization to use this concept of car vending machine in a retail business was actually used by Carvana located in the United States, Japanese were the first to provide a glimpse of this technology back in 2008 with their Smart Car Vending Machine. even if it was in a limited capacity. You could not really buy the smart car from the vending machine, but you could get brochures and information about the different smart car models of the 2-seater vehicle.
The First Purchasable Car Vending Machine
The first car vending machine which actually sold vehicles to their customers from the terminal was founded by Carvana, an auto dealer company based in Phoenix, Arizona, US.
Carvana has established their fully-automated, coin-operated car vending machine in many different locations including Atlanta, Nashville, and Charlotte. Carvana representative states that the original concept of the vending machine of the company was made in 2013 at the Atlanta base, which was later improved with various tweaks.
The car vending machine in Nashville is well-designed glass building containing a Welcome Center, a 5-story Tower which can store up to 20 cars, three customer Delivery Bays and an Automated Delivery System that will move a specific vehicle from the Tower into each Delivery Bay.
How does it work?
The Carvana customers make a completely online car purchase from the company’s website, after which they choose to pick their vehicle up from the car vending machine.
During the pickup, the customer selects their name from the kiosk inside the vending machine and inserts a Carvana branded coin into the custom coin slot. This will initiate the process, in which the car is automatically retrieved from the Tower and brought to the Delivery Bay. The customer takes the possession of the car and their 7-day test ownership period starts.
Additionally, Carvana supplies the customer with a personalized video of their unique car vending machine experience which can be shared on social media.
Singapore’s Luxury Car Vending Machine
Famous as the world’s largest luxury car vending machine, Singapore’s used car retailer Autobahn Motors has established an impressive 15-story building which is filled with high-end cars collection comprising of names such as Ferraris, Bentleys, Lamborghinis, and Porches.
The well designed futuristic structure can hold up to 60 cars at the same time in such a compact space, the idea for which was inspired by a display of Matchbox toy cars at a store.
The cars available for customers comprise of all sorts, such as modern luxury sports cars to classics, including a 1955 Morgan plus 4.
How does it work?
Customers can use touchscreens provided by the company on the ground floor to browse through the available cars. Once the car is picked, the vending machine automatically picks the selected car and carries it through the middle of the building on the moving platform towards the center stage, which hardly takes about 2 minutes in total. The Autobahn Motors staff supervises the whole process.
Alibaba Group Introducing their Own Car Vending Machine
The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has inked a 3-year digital marketing and online retail partnership with automotive manufacturing giant Ford. According to which, Ford will offer their electric vehicles for trial and sale at the Alibaba Group’s many fully automated car vending machines called the Tmall Auto Facility.
Shaping this agreement into a reality, Alibaba Group has planned to open 2 car vending machines in China which will be located in the cities of Shanghai and Nanjing. These outlets will become operational for public customers from January 2018.
Although at this point of time only Ford has agreed to be part of this project with Alibaba Group, brands such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo are in talks with the Chinese tech giant to trial this new technology.
How will this work?
The potential buyer will be able to start the online process through Alibaba’s Taobao app by taking a snap of the car he desires, which can be parked or moving in the street. The advanced AI of the system will inform him if the model is available at the nearest Tmall facility.
To schedule a test drive of the car, the user will send a request through the same Taobao app with added information and a selfie of himself.
After arriving at the destination Tmall, the buyer can get his car by getting through the vending machine’s facial recognition system. Once that is complete, the car is carried and handed over to the buyer. The buyer will have a three days test drive during which he can take the vehicle to any place. Once the test drive period expires, he can buy the car or return it if he didn’t like it. There are a few restrictions with the booking of cars for the test drives though, such as the same car cannot be booked again, only 5 cars can be tested initially during the 2 months period by the same buyer.
The most important aspect of this process is that everything from start until the end is all fully automated needing no manual interference with even the payment system online. There are a few limitations on the buyers or users who are deemed eligible for buying these cars through this system.
The buyer or user must already be a Super Alibaba Member with a credit score higher than 700 on China’s Zhima Credit System. If the buyer wants to buy the car, he will only need to submit 10 percent down payment online and complete the rest of the financing through Alibaba Alipay affiliate.
The automatic car vending machine is not available in Europen countries as it is in the US, Singapore or in near future China, but something similar is followed by the German automaker Volkswagen.
In Germany, it is very common for people to order customized vehicles through the local auto dealers, and then collect their car from the manufacturing factory. The Volkswagen KundenCenter (customer center) in Wolfsburg delivers around 550 cars daily to their customer.
The car vending machine sort of system is at work in this facility as well but in a limited capacity. The system is divided into three parts: the manufacturing factory, the car towers or also called the Volkswagen’s Autotürme, and the KundenCenter where the customers pick up their new cars.
When a car is manufactured and proven through the rigorous testing phases, a machine brings it from the factory and stores it in an empty slot in the Autotürme. Whenever a customer arrives for their car, the system checks the car towers, fetches the vehicle and brings it down to the ground level to transfer it to the KundenCenter. Each tower holds up to 400 cars on 20 levels and can process a car every 45 seconds during peak times.