Alibaba will sell cars with a vehicle vending machine

Alibaba will sell cars with a vehicle vending machine

Andrew Cummings
December 15, 2017

Alibaba has made a push to integrate its online sales platforms with offline retail, including a recent $2.9 billion investment in hypermarket operator Sun Art, but this new project is one of the clearest examples of its strategy to date.

Customers who wish to buy electric cars can use the Taobao shopping app of Alibaba to check the cars they are interested in and then choose the colour to process the purchase. It may be a vending machine, but there are some prerequisites to its usage, though.

Ford and Alibaba sign
Enlarge Image Ford and Alibaba have signed a three-year deal to look at new automated car sales opportunities in China. Ford

And just a week later, we now hear that Alibaba is considering vending machines for electric cars.

For recognition of the individual, Facial recognition technology is used.

The person can then head to the machine and get the confirmation to take the vehicle for a test drive. The customers can only keep the vehicle for three days, however, at which point they either buy the vehicle or arrange to test a different model. First, they must have a score of over 700 with China's Zhima Credit system (which has been decried by human rights activists as a mass-surveillance and disciplinary tool) as well as being an accredited Alibaba Super Member, one of the higher tiers of membership in the Alibaba 88 Membership program.

Alibaba intends to open the two facilities in January 2018.

Allowing anyone to just take a auto for three days is risky business and, alongside some T&Cs such as a limit of five test-drives per two months, Alibaba is relying on its own financial services to vet and identify who is borrowing the vehicles. One will be in Shanghai and another one will be in Nanjing.

Alibaba is a big online retailer of all the things in China and the company is set to begin selling cars out of a vending machine building that has cat ears and eyes on it. Alibaba was talking about auto vending machines back in August of this year, and is now closer to rolling them out.

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