What happens when you blend the capabilities of a Chinese tech company that desperately wants to disrupt the automotive industry with one of the most respected members of the American automotive community? If you guessed a multi-story car vending machine facility that distributes brand new Ford cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) for test drives via Alibaba's Tmail mobile app, then you were right on the money.
Known as the Super Test-Drive Center, this multi-story facility aims to capture the attention of China's burgeoning mobile-focused populace, all while funneling vital consumer data back to the Ford-Alibaba alliance. Adding in the ability for potential buyers to access discounts and incentives based on prior shopping habits and usage within Alibaba's array of mobile services further fleshes out this concept - and drives home the fact that the Super Test-Drive Center is most likely the first of many such facilities to find a spot in China's sprawling urban centers.
While this decidedly unique take on the automotive purchasing process definitely grabs headlines thanks to its novelty, Matt Burns of TechCrunch notes that the unveiling of this facility in Guangzhou serves as an important step forward in the pact signed between Ford and one of the most prominent tech titans from China two years ago.
On the Ford side of the equation, cutting traditional dealerships and franchises out of the picture and leveraging a trick from Carvana's used car sales playbook presents an opportunity to capture virtually every automaker's unstated desire of providing direct sales to consumers. As for Alibaba, partnering with Ford and tethering its brand to the automotive industry is yet another example of this member of China's "Big Three" tech group flexing its muscles in an effort to wedge a foothold into the global automotive marketplace.
Interested in learning more about the Super Test-Drive Center and how this futuristic take on the car buying process could drastically alter the automotive landscape - both in China and across the globe - for years to come? Then check out the complete breakdown from Burns and TechCrunch on the other side of the link below.