Buying a car is soon to become “as easy as buying a can of Coke.” Chinese ecommerce company Alibaba is due to launch its first car vending machine next year.

This new development will allow potential customers to browse available cars on their smartphones. Pressing ‘buy now’ will release the car that they’re interested in.

Can anyone buy one?

Unfortunately not… the system will be connected to financial information so that Alibaba can access data on the interested customer’s credit rating. If their score is high enough, the customer will be able to pay a 10% deposit and drive the car away.

Following this, the new owner will be required to pay monthly instalments, as with any finance plan. What they won’t have to do is sit through a variety of conversations in a car showroom and fill out reams of paperwork in order to get their new vehicle.

Successful trials

Similar car vending machines have already been trialled. For example, Autobahn Motors recently opened a futuristic, 15-storey showroom in Singapore, which holds cars in 60 slots. Potential customers can release them by selecting their favourite on a touchscreen on the ground floor. The car arrives within two minutes, so that the customer can view it.

Meanwhile, US company Carvana uses an eight-floor tower to sell cars in San Antonio, Texas. This also resembles a giant car vending machine.

This method of selling cars is becoming increasingly popular. It reduces both staff and storage costs, thus saving companies money. It also gives those brave enough to innovate a very interesting selling approach to market to their target audience!

(Vending in trial in Singapore – Autobahn Motors/Facebook)

The history of car buying

Until the late 1990s, people could only buy cars through dealerships, or from a private seller. Both processes come with their fair share of pressure for customers, as you’re dealing directly with the people who stand to make money out of your decision to buy.

Then along came the internet. People began to advertise and sell cars online. Dealers had to start being a little more competitive with their pricing, as it was easier for people to get more than one quote. Buyers suddenly became less prepared to put up with being worn down by inescapable sales patter.

Now, the internet allows car buyers to see all of the options available to them just by clicking buttons or tapping a screen. There are also reviews to read and watch online for almost every model of car – a far cry from our former reliance on specialist motoring magazines and recommendations from family and friends.

For people who find negotiating prices face-to-face awkward, the developments in car buying have been most welcome. You can negotiate prices online and consider your options privately and at your own pace, with offers made through emails and messages, especially through auction sites like eBay.

Changing the customer experience

BMW has sought to change with the times in terms of the car buying experience. The company now employs ‘car geniuses,’ who know all there is to know about its collection of vehicles. These staff members aren’t motivated by sales – their role is simply to give potential customers all of the information they need to make a decision.

This removes the pressure of customers having to talk about their finances or possible contract terms. Instead, they can focus on finding the model that is perfect for them and fall for it at their own pace.

Meanwhile, Volvo is taking an alternative – and far more futuristic – approach to progressing the car buying experience. The firm is working with Microsoft on ‘HoloLens.’ This will allow people to interact with Volvo’s cars and brand using holograms, while still being connected with the world around them.

Volvo is the only automotive company currently working with Microsoft on this project. It hopes that it will help people to see specific features, and choose cars’ finer details, as they create them to their own specifications in holographic form.

Car companies are constantly looking at ways in which they can make the car buying process easier for their customers. Many are seeking to embrace new technology in order to do this, thus opening up many possibilities for the future of car buying. PetrolPrices believes that car vending machines and holograms are just the tip of the iceberg – watch this space for further updates!

Would you buy a car from a vending machine? Or do you prefer face-to-face contact when it comes to purchasing a vehicle? Leave a comment to let us know.

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