Nashville Just Got the World’s First Car Vending Machine
As ever, do not shake to dispense.
Most folks are still getting used to the idea of buying iPods out of an airport vending machines. Still, technology rushes relentlessly forward, and as of this week, it’s now possible to buy an automobile from the same kind of revolving display that diners use to showcase their cream pie roster. Carvana, an online used car vendor in the style of CarMax, has just built the world’s first car vending machine in Tennessee. It has five stories, and it is glorious.
The company has sold cars almost completely online for years, with the process only delving into the real world at the end, when customers would choose to pick-up their car or have it delivered to their home. Carvana found the majority of their customers preferred pick-up, and decided to make that process as fun and easy as possible. As the company’s CEO told The Verge, pick-up costs Carvana less than delivery, so it “...could invest that money in giving them a really, really great experience.” Apparently, the best experiences are human-free: the process, exactly as with a candy-filled vending machine, is totally automated.
After selecting a car online, the customer travels to the Nashville, Tennessee rotunda and received a customized, over-sized coin. The token is slipped into a slot and activates a robotic arm that selects the chosen car; then, another robot takes over and shepherds the car down a hallway and into the receiving bay. Even a week after completing their purchase, Carvana customers are welcomed to bring the car back, no questions asked—what CEO Ernie Garcia calls a “test-to-own” period.
The best part? Besides a dearth glad-handing humans in polyester sport coats, the simplicity and automation of the Carvana model is supposed to account for prices between $1,500 and $2,000 less than typical used car lots. That’s a gimmick we can get behind.