Alibaba will soon begin selling cars using these very big vending machines



The company's recent moves in the automobile space come after other major players comprising China's BAT companies - an acronym used to refer to Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent collectively - have made investments of their own in the electric vehicle space.

While we in the United Kingdom are beginning to wrap our heads around online vehicle purchasing, Chinese retail and tech giant Alibaba has stepped the game up in its home country.

Alibaba is a big online retailer of all the things in China and the company is set to begin selling cars out of a vending machine building that has cat ears and eyes on it. Alibaba was talking about auto vending machines back in August of this year, and is now closer to rolling them out.

Customers who wish to buy electric cars can use the Taobao shopping app of Alibaba to check the cars they are interested in and then choose the colour to process the purchase. The app is also developed by Alibaba. After that basic info is collected, the user can snap a selfie and then arrange for a test drive if the vehicle is available.

Ford and Alibaba sign
Enlarge Image Ford and Alibaba have signed a three-year deal to look at new automated car sales opportunities in China. Ford

The customer then heads over the unmanned vending machine facility and, after showing their face (hence the earlier selfie), their order is retrieved and the vehicle is dispatched. There are restrictions, naturally; users are limited to one test drive of each vehicle, and are allowed up to five test drives in the first two months of the programme.

The "Car Vending Machines" are futuristic buildings that look like a enormous version of something you'd find in Toys "R" Us. Moreover, they need to qualify as an Alibaba Super Member and have reached a certain level of the company's scoring service.

Alibaba intends to open two of these Tmall vending locations in January, one in Shanghai and another in Nanjig, with "dozens" more planned to launch across China (most in the next year).

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