Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba launches online auto purchases

World Today

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba launches online auto purchases

E-commerce giant Alibaba is launching a new service in its handy retail business – a car vending machine that will allow customers to buy real cars with a few taps on their screen. The company says it hopes to save buyers hours spent in auto dealerships. But will it really work?

CGTN’s Mi Jiayi finds out.

Opening the Taobao app, customers can now see a page full of cars – cars that they can test drive for three days before deciding whether to buy.

After making their booking, customers just scan their face to get the keys, and then find the car in the parking lots.

“It is very quick, both the booking and the car pickup. And there’s no agency involved,” said potential buyer Yu Sijia. “In the past I’ve had to leave my phone number with the agencies and wait for them to call me.

The price is one third of usual price for renting a same model via car rental companies. But if you decide to buy the car in the end, the trial is free.

Currently the platform has more than a dozen automobile brands available for booking. And the e-commerce giant hopes to work more closely with the brands in the future.

“Normally, when consumers test a car, they have to get out to the suburbs, which takes a long time. And usually they can only test two cars at most during the weekend,” said the General Manager of Alibaba’s Automotive Unit Yu Wei “So what we are trying to do is to save customers’ time by introducing a service that current dealerships cannot offer.”

The test drive bookings are open to customers with an Alipay credit score of more than 700 points. More than 50 people have already signed up to it. How many will wind up buying the cars.