Ford and Alibaba have been working together to launch a car sales platform in China for quite some time. Together, the two companies designed a large vending machine used to enhance the test drive experience for customers and making getting into a car easier than having to visit a dealership.
The vending machine is coined the "Super Test-Drive Center," and is located in China's southern city, Guangzhou. Its name is fairly appropriate because over 100 vehicles will be available to test drive at any given time, including the Edge, Explorer, Mustang, and Chinese-built Everest SUV.
Ford Asia-Pacific's VP of Marketing, Dean Stoneley, agreed that the vending machine was all about convenience. In a statement, the VP said, “We are looking for ways to simplify customers’ lives and give them the ultimate try-before-you-buy experience.”
Customers will be able to drive the vehicles for up to three days at no cost, so as long as they have a high enough Zhima (also called "Sesame") social credit score. Otherwise, customers will be required somewhere between $16 and $32 for the experience, depending on what model they choose. Frankly, that doesn't seem to be that bad of a price for renting a car for three days. Once booked via the mobile app, test drivers will need to snap a selfie to confirm the booking.
China is the biggest car market in the world. But the most exciting thing about this market isn't that people are buying a lot of cars — it's how people are buying them. Alibaba's #Tmall partnered with @Ford to launch this “Super Test-Drive Center” in China. Take a look! pic.twitter.com/R070YDq2by— Alibaba Group (@AlibabaGroup) March 26, 2018
This vending machine might not be as cool as the one in neighboring country Singapore (and it might not be the first in the world either) but it's still a neat concept. We all know what it's like to walk into a car dealer and feel the pressure of a salesperson, even when we just want to test how it feels to sit or shift a particular model. This approach takes the stress away from just that and makes the car trying process a lot more enjoyable, plus Ford doesn't have to fight the Car Dealer's Association to put up this contraption. The vending machine will open on April 23.