Alibaba And Ford Opens Car Vending Machine in China

Alibaba and Ford's cat-themed car vending machine
(Credit: Alibaba)

This unstaffed, digital “car vending machine” by Alibaba and Ford is the latest from the partnership signed two years ago.

Located in Guangzhou, China, the Super Test-Drive center is open to use by the public with good credit scores. It stands 5 storeys tall and houses 42 Ford cars of different models including the Ford Explorer SUV and Mustang.

So how does it work?

“Sign up is completely mobile on the Tmall or Taobao mobile APP,” said Gu Wanguo, general manager of vehicles at Tmall Auto.

Users can select the car that they want and would put down a deposit electronically. They would also have to schedule a pickup time and would need take a selfie to ensure they are only person who can take the car. This will allow the machine to recognize them when they pick up the car.

Users can test-drive the vehicles for three days and is free as long as the users have the credit score of 700 or above.

The Super Test-Drive center is open to the public from Monday to April 23. They are also planning to put similar machines in Beijing and Hangzhou.

Although the idea is very cool, this is not the first ever car vending machine. Carvana opened a similar 5-storey building in Nashville Tennessee back in 2015.

Ford Rolls Out a Hot Rod SUV

Demand for cars is apparently waning but not the speed. This is the reason why automaker Ford Motor Co. is rolling out its first SUV. The company has publicly introduced this week its race-ready ST Edition of the Edge sports utility vehicle.

Ford Motor Co. has introduced its vehicle in advance during the Detroit auto show. The company’s car is powered by a 335-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 engine. Designer Steve Gilmore said the car was engineered to look “sinister.”

In the US, experts claim that car buyers continue to migrate in using utility vehicles. They noted that some actually prefers to use the Taurus SHO sports sedans as well as the Focus ST vehicles.

More SUVs

“I wouldn’t describe it as a niche,” Raj Nair, head of Ford’s North American operations, told Bloomberg in an interview. “We see it as big enough to pursue some real engineering and some real unique parts. For that to pay off, it needs to be a pretty healthy business.”

Nair said that Ford’s Edge would be the first in the company’s series of SUVs. But analysts hinted that both Escape and subcompact Ecosport is due for an ST upgrade.

For Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Cox Automotive Inc., people are now choosing trucks and SUVs rather than cars, citing “practicality.”

“People are running away from cars, and they’re running toward trucks and SUVs,” said Brauer in the same Bloomberg report. “Why not have the performance elements of cars migrate to SUVs, too?”

Car enthusiasts described the Edge as a mid-sized vehicle that would potentially attract female owners among Ford’s SUVs. Ford said that Edge’s primary rival is the styled Nissan Murano.

Ford introduces HD Radio with iTunes tagging

If there’s one techie motor company, it’ll have to Ford Motors.

Early this month, the Dearborn, Michigan-based auto company announced that they’ll be turning their vehicles into Wi-Fi hotspots with the 2010 release of their second generation Sync in-car connectivity system.

Today, Ford Motor announced that starting 2010, consumers who’ll be purchasing their cars will also be getting a factory-installed HD Radio receiver with iTunes Tagging capabiites.

In a press release, Ford said that through the Sync system, “iTunes Tagging will provide Ford customers with the ability to capture a song they hear on the HD Radio receiver for later purchase. With a simple push of the ‘TAG’ button on the radio display, the song information will be stored in the radio’s memory.”

“Up to 100 tags can be stored on Sync until the iPod is connected to receive the download of metadata. When the iPod is then synced to iTunes, a playlist of ‘tagged’ songs will appear. Customers then can preview and, if desired, purchase and download tagged songs from the iTunes Store,” the release further explains.


Ford: Turning your car into Wi-Fi hotspots

Today, the Dearborn, Michigan-based auto company announced that they will be releasing the second generation of its Sync in-car connectivity system which can turn the vehicle into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The first generation of the Sync is currently offered on 13 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles which supports Apple’s iPod and Microsoft’s Zune. It also allows Bluetooth-capable phones to sync with the car’s system.

The second generation of the Sync in-car connectivity system takes it a notch higher by offering internet connectivity via Wi-Fi to those who are within the vehicle. Passengers or the driver will have to insert their USB mobile broadband modem into a USB port.  Standard WPA2 security protocols will require users to enter a random password, and will have to specifically allow a device to connect. This is to ensure that unauthorized users (say, your neighbor in that supermarket parking lot) to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi.

No word yet as to the exact date of the release of the 2nd gen Sync. Ford also did not say how many models in 2010 will come with the new technology.


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