U.S. Automaker Ford and Chinese e-commerce and technology company Alibaba are teaming up to test a new system of direct-to-consumer auto sales … via a fully automated car vending machine. In January 2018, Alibaba plans to open two car vending machines, controlled by an app. Alibaba hopes the vending machines expand its online car sales and “make buying a car as simple as a can of coke”— albeit a bit more expensive than a can of soda.
To use the automated vending machines, an Alibaba “Super Member” who qualifies via Alibaba’s Zhima Credit scoring system would take a picture of a car or scan a car on Alibaba’s app, Taobao. If the prospective buyer wants to schedule a test drive of the car, the consumer uploads a picture of themselves to utilize facial recognition technology. The consumer then heads to a “Tmall Auto” facility, which is a three story car vending machine with cars from a variety of brands. The facility recognizes the consumer via facial recognition technology and dispenses the car for a three-day test drive. The consumer can then buy the car via the app, or return the car and continue the process with other cars. The facilities are entirely unstaffed, so consumers will have no human interaction in the car buying process.
So where does Ford come in? Ford recently entered an agreement with Alibaba to explore opportunities “like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, digital marketing, and online retailing”- including in the Tmall Auto facilities. Ford will offer vehicles in the vending machines, along with other brands.
The concept is similar to U.S. auto retailer Carvana’s “Car Vending Machine”. Carvana provides a multi-story vending machine linked to Carvana’s website, but also provides on-site representatives to assist buyers. Singapore also has a 15-story car vending machine dispensing luxury cars including Ferraris and Porsches. It has yet to be seen if consumers are scrambling for opportunities to buy cars from automated machines, but the current indications are that this trend will only accelerate into the future.
This blog is made available by Foley & Lardner LLP (“Foley” or “the Firm”) for informational purposes only. It is not meant to convey the Firm’s legal position on behalf of any client, nor is it intended to convey specific legal advice. Any opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Foley & Lardner LLP, its partners, or its clients. Accordingly, do not act upon this information without seeking counsel from a licensed attorney.
This blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Communicating with Foley through this website by email, blog post, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship for any legal matter. Therefore, any communication or material you transmit to Foley through this blog, whether by email, blog post or any other manner, will not be treated as confidential or proprietary.
The information on this blog is published “AS IS” and is not guaranteed to be complete, accurate, and or up-to-date. Foley makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation or content of the site. Foley expressly disclaims all other guarantees, warranties, conditions and representations of any kind, either express or implied, whether arising under any statute, law, commercial use or otherwise, including implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Foley or any of its partners, officers, employees, agents or affiliates be liable, directly or indirectly, under any theory of law (contract, tort, negligence or otherwise), to you or anyone else, for any claims, losses or damages, direct, indirect special, incidental, punitive or consequential, resulting from or occasioned by the creation, use of or reliance on this site (including information and other content) or any third party websites or the information, resources or material accessed through any such websites.
In some jurisdictions, the contents of this blog may be considered Attorney Advertising. If applicable, please note that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Photographs are for dramatization purposes only and may include models. Likenesses do not necessarily imply current client, partnership or employee status.