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Self-service test drive center debuts in Guangzhou

Writer:   | Editor: Lily A  | From:  | Updated: 2018-03-28

A GIGANTIC “vending machine” for cars allowing self-service test drives opened in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province on Monday.

The multi-story facility was launched by Tmall, an online retail arm of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The steel building, located in Baiyun District, covers nearly 1,000 square meters and holds up to 42 vehicles.

Customers can make an appointment for a three-day test drive by searching the keywords “super test drive” on the Tmall or Taobao apps, providing their identification details, and paying a deposit and a fee for the service on their mobile phones. They can then access the vehicles in the garage by themselves.

Customers are eligible for discounts on the deposit and fee based on their score on Alibaba’s credit scoring unit Sesame Credit.

During the first month of operation, the facility will only offer Ford vehicles. The service fee is 99 yuan to 198 yuan (US$15.80- 31.60) depending on the model, and the deposit is 3,000 yuan.

After the test drive, customers can buy the vehicle at a Ford retail store.

The cooperation is part of innovative efforts between Alibaba and the U.S. auto maker in digital marketing.

Tmall is in talks with other auto brands interested in the test drive service.

It plans to build similar facilities in Beijing and Hangzhou soon, before expanding to more big cities within a year.