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Last Updated : Mar 28, 2018 11:29 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

In China, Ford & Alibaba are offering three-day test drives through a car vending machine

Both companies plan to leverage artificial intelligence, cloud computing, the Internet of Things and e-commerce to “redefine the consumer journey and user experience for automobiles.”

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China’s largest retailer Alibaba and American auto giant Ford have unveiled first “auto vending machine” in China a bid to push to upgrade the test-drive experience for Chinese consumers.

The joint venture has opened a Super Test-Drive Centre in Guangzhou, offering three-day test-drives to potential buyers researching their next purchase, allowing them to choose from more than 100 vehicles, including the Explorer SUV, Mustang, Edge and Everest models.

“We are looking for ways to simplify customers’ lives and give them the ultimate try-before-you-buy experience,” said Dean Stoneley, vice president of marketing at Ford Asia Pacific, at a launch event.

A potential customer can browse through the available models via Alibaba’s e-commerce apps and choose a time for pick-up. The customer also needs to snap a selfie with the mobile app, which is used to confirm his or her booking at the test-drive centre.

Test-drives cost RMB 99 (USD 16) or RMB 198, depending on the model. But Alibaba Super Members, or customers with a Zhima Credit score over 700, get their rides for free.

Both companies plan to leverage artificial intelligence, cloud computing, the Internet of Things and e-commerce to “redefine the consumer journey and user experience for automobiles.”

In order to push New Retail, Alibaba has partnered with a slew of auto companies including Renault and Maserati.

The companies are also hopeful with the idea of three-day test drive. “If we lengthen the duration of test-drives, consumers can make buying decisions with more confidence and ease,” Cao Zhenyu, a senior executive at Changan Ford Automobile, a Ford joint venture headquartered in Chongqing said.

“We want consumers to take our cars out travelling and on their daily commutes for them to fully experience our products, and eventually have that translate to sales at our physical stores.”

Stoneley also said that Ford expects the vending machine to boost up sale in its physical stores. “It’s about having them try Ford vehicles, and ultimately buying the vehicle at a Ford dealership,” he said.
First Published on Mar 27, 2018 01:45 pm
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