It is no longer enough simply to test-drive a vehicle by riding around the block while a salesperson gives you their well-rehearsed patter. Now, there needs to be some sort of theater around the purchase, or else how will you trick yourself into thinking that buying a car is fun? It's why Ford and Alibaba leapt into bed together to build a vending machine for cars that you can try before you buy.
The Super Test-Drive Center in Guangzhou was announced at the tail-end of 2017, although the real thing doesn't look as nice as the original renders. The job it does is the same, however, with the vending machine, which has a capacity of 42 cars, spitting out rides for prospective buyers. All they need to do is pay the necessary fees using Alibaba's Tmall app and share a selfie to get their hands on the vehicle.
Users will have the pick of 10 different models, running from the Mondeo through to the Explorer and even an imported Mustang. They can then spend the next three days tooling around town before returning it to the machine for someone else to have a go. Users with specific Tmall profiles can even be offered discounts based on their shopping profiles as a way to get 'em to buy.
Unfortunately, the stunt is a limited-time deal, and according to Gasgoo, will only run between now and April 23rd. It'll be interesting to see if the issue of avoiding salespeople and the neato vending machine will spark more purchases. Or, maybe, there are other things stopping us from all running out and snagging a brand new Mustang.