Alibaba Will Sell Cars From a Vending Machine

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA) has been a major retail disruptor in China thanks to its creative approach and willingness to embrace technology. This week, the company provided investors with updates on the innovative ways Alibaba is planning to disrupt the Chinese auto market as well.

Alibaba announced the launch of two “Super Test-Drive Centers” in Shanghai and Nanjing ahead of its anticipated launch of its first massive “Auto Vending Machine” in January. Alibaba’s goal is to bring the same level of convenience and selection that customers enjoy with its Tmall e-commerce platform to the car-buying experience as well.

According to the company, the auto vending machine will make “buying cars as easy as buying a can of Coke.”

Alibaba’s vending machines will be massive, multi-level parking structures that hold hundreds of different vehicles. Instead of journeying from dealership to dealership to test drive automobiles, Alibaba app users with qualifying credit scores will be able to browse models right on their phones, select the models they would like to test drive and have them delivered at the ground level of the structure within minutes.

The entire process will be automated from start to finish, just like buying a soda at a vending machine.

“We are building a physical, experiential store that offers staff-less car pickup through facial-recognition, three-day ‘deep’ test-drives and a one-stop shop that displays [cars from] all main-stream brands at once,” says Huan Lu, marketing director of Tmall’s automotive division.

Alibaba is hoping to upgrade the auto retail industry in China by opening dozens of auto vending machines in cities across China over the next 12 months. Earlier this month, Alibaba announced a new three-year partnership with Ford Motor Co. (F) to explore innovative ways to sell vehicles in China as part of its “New Retail” initiative.

Alibaba’s auto retail goals are ambitious, but investors have no complaints in 2017. The stock has doubled over the past year, and Stifel analyst Scott Devitt says Alibaba and fellow Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com (JD) are pulling all the right strings.

“Alibaba and JD.com have both achieved…

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