By Prarthana Mitra
Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba has partnered with Ford to unveil a car vending machine in Guangzhou, China. Customers will be able to avail cars for test drives anytime using the machine if they have credit scores of 700 and above.
According to Alibaba, the process is quick and could take up to ten minutes at the most, as customers verify their identity at the vending machine and then the car is then dispensed from the multistory structure.
The completely digitalised ‘Super Test-Drive Center’ is essentially a multi-storied parking lot acting as a vending machine that dispenses Ford models for prospective buyers. Buyers make an electronic deposit through the Tmall app which also checks their credit score. The system also uses facial recognition, asking the user to upload a selfie to enable the machine to identify them when they pick up the car at a scheduled time of their choice.
There could be sufficient cause for alarm as the Chinese multinational e-commerce giant Alibaba’s credit ranking system Zhima has been reported to have links to the government’s experimental social ranking system, which is believed to eventually encompass credit rankings.
The vending machine will only operate until April 23, giving car enthusiasts of Guangzhou enough time to take their favourite Ford cars out for free test drives, for three days, even for a short road trip— provided their credit score is high enough.
According to AutoBlog, Alibaba had earlier announced its plans to build similar kiosks across the country, whereby customers could also buy the car outright with a 10 percent deposit and financing through Alibaba affiliates.
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