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Ford and Alibaba Unveil Car Vending Machine in China

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and US car maker Ford have unveiled an unstaffed car vending machine in China’s southern city Guangzhou.

The Super Test-Drive Center, is stocked with 42 Fords, from Mustangs and Mondeos to Explorers. Test drives are free, as long as customers have a very respectable credit score of 700 or above.

So, it looks like this social credit system isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

In China, the government rates citizens using a social ranking system. Alibaba’s credit ranking system known as Zhima or Sesame Credit has unclear links to the government’s social system which will eventually encompass credit rankings. According to Wired, users start with a score of 550 when they have no transaction history, with scores ranging from 350 to 950.

Other than picking up and driving the test car, the entire experience plays out through Alibaba’s mobile e-commerce apps. Users find Tmall’s “Super Test-Drive” page, browse the available models and then choose a time for pick-up.

Alibaba says that in a vending machine visit lasting no more than 10 min, 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.

According to Gasgoo,  the stunt is a limited-time deal, and will only run between now and April 23rd. Buyers will be given a 3-day test drive before they have to commit to any purchase. Similar machines are being planned in Beijing and Hangzhou.

Ford and Alibaba signed a three-year collaboration partnership last December, allowing the US car maker various new retail opportunities, from pre-sales, test drives and leasing options, through Tmall.

“We are looking for ways to simplify customers’ lives and give them the ultimate try-before-you-buy experience,” said Dean Stoneley, vice president of marketing at Ford Asia Pacific, at a launch event.

The e-commerce giant is no stranger to selling cars online and via mobile apps. In 2016, Maserati sold 100 cars in 18 seconds during a flash sale on Tmall.

Source: Engadget

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