Tmall sells new Ford cars from its marketplace app – and a giant vending machine

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Shoppers in the Chinese city of Guangzhou can now buy a new Ford car from a vending machine using nothing more than Tmall’s app.

The Chinese marketplace has opened a ‘Super Test-Drive Centre’ in the city, offering drivers a choice of 100 new Ford cars – from a practical yet reliable Escort to an Explorer SUV and even a top of the range Mustang – to test and, if they want, to buy – from an enormous vending machine using nothing more than their mobile phone.

Drivers gain access to the centre by signing up via the Tmall or Taobao mobile app, they then take a selfie for security, pay a deposit electronically from their phone, select a car and use the app to unlock the machine and then drive away for a three day test drive before deciding whether to buy or not.

If they don’t like the car they initially chose they can try another, up to a limit of two. If they decide to make the purchase after the test drive, they can visit Ford’s offline 4S stores to pay the remaining balance after paying the deposit on Tmall.

Discounts and other incentives will also be provided to potential buyers based on consumer insights derived from user activity and history with the Alibaba ecosystem.

“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. 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.”

– Gu Wanguo, general manager of vehicles, Tmall Auto

The partnership on the new Tmall Super Test-Drive Center is a key step in an agreement between Alibaba and Ford Motor to redefine the automotive experience. It aims to integrates the best of the online and physical worlds for Chinese consumers.

Alibaba also plans to build similar auto vending machines in Beijing and Hangzhou, while continue exploring collaboration opportunities with Ford in cloud computing, digital marketing, as well as in-car operating systems with AliOS, Alibaba’s IoT operating-system developer.

Check it out in the video below

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