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Mobile drives shake up in motoring with apps to buy cars from vending machines and using Apple Pay to ‘subscribe’ to a Volvo

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We all knew that mobile technology was revolutionise motoring: but rather than the much anticipated – and largely denied – Apple Car, instead mobile is making a big dent in how people buy cars.

Shoppers in China are already using their mobiles and an app to buy new Ford cars from a vending machine and now Volvo is using an app to let users to ‘subscribe’ to a car deal.

Firstly, Ford and marketplace Tmall in China have teamed up to offer Chinese motorists the ability to get a new Ford car from a giant vending machine in the city of Guangzhou, test drive it for three days then, if they want it, to buy it – all from an app.

Buyers simply sign up using their Tmall or Taobao app accounts, head to the vending machine in the city centre and choose an Escort, Explorer SUV or a Mustang.

Shoppers in China can now buy a new car from a vending machine. The buyer then takes a selfie to ensure they are the only person who can take the car from the centre, put down a deposit electronically and schedule a pick-up time, all from within the app. They then use that selfie to identify themselves and the car they have chosen is delivered to the ground floor of the “car dispensary” for their test drive to begin.

If they don’t like the car they initially chose they can try another, up to a limit of two. If they decide to make the purchase after the test drive, they can visit Ford’s offline 4S stores to pay the remaining balance after paying the deposit on Tmall.

Gu Wanguo, general manager of vehicles at Tmall Auto, said the auto vending machine is an important step in Alibaba’s New Retail push. “By leveraging Alibaba’s data intelligence and technologies, the auto vending machine and super drive test services can enable auto brand owners and distributors better serve their customers.” Gu added.

“Consumers can use the internet to access more accurate, convenient services and get a deeper understanding into particular vehicles. In the meantime, we are opening our car vending machine’s infrastructure to the entire industry to leverage and enable their distributors, in hopes of helping upgrade the automotive sector as a whole.”

The partnership on the new Tmall Super Test-Drive Center is a key step in an agreement between Alibaba and Ford Motor to redefine the automotive experience. It aims to integrates the best of the online and physical worlds for Chinese consumers.

Alibaba also plans to build similar auto vending machines in Beijing and Hangzhou, while continue exploring collaboration opportunities with Ford in cloud computing, digital marketing, as well as in-car operating systems with AliOS, Alibaba’s IoT operating-system developer.

Check out how it works in this video

Meanwhile, Volvo is shaking things up in the US with the launch of its Care by Volvo programme, which allows motorists to subscribe to a having a car. In the trial this involves using the Care by Volvo iOS app and Apple Pay to subscribe to an all-wheel drive XC40, with insurance, routine maintenance, roadside assistance for $600 a month all in – with no money down.

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