Need a quick-fix for that late-night sports car craving? Then it’s time to visit a car vending machine near you!
No, this isn’t a scene from the new Blade Runner or the classroom doodlings of a daydreamy eleven-year old: this is real life. Companies around the world are building their own, working car dispensing buildings that cough up cars like a can of Coke.
Autobahn Motors, a company that sells used cars, recently opened a transparent, 15-story high luxury car dispenser in Singapore – the largest of its kind – as a novel way of selling second-hand cars.
Customers on the ground select their preferred vehicle using a touch screen and then watch through the glass windows as their chosen vehicle is retrieved and lowered down to them using a complex elevator-like platform. The structure can hold up to 60 cars, mainly pre-owned sports cars, including Lamborghinis, McLarens and Ferraris.
Singapore growing population and limited space has created a critical land-scarcity, that has seen leisure spaces like golf courses being reclaimed for housing and infrastructure developments.
Singapore is also especially vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels. According to the government’s website, the mean sea level in the Straits of Singapore has increased at a rate of almost 2mm per year for the last few decades. To combat this lack of space, In the last 50 years, the Singaporean government has even expanded the country’s land mass by importing sand and using it to reclaim land from the ocean.
ABM’s car vending machine is a novel way of dealing with this space shortage, but it isn’t the only vending machine of its kind in the world. Earlier this year, Carvana – an American company known for selling cars online – opened a number of vehicle dispensing buildings in Texas, and plans to take the idea nationwide. Customers buy cars online and can either have the car delivered to them or pick it up themselves from one of these vending machines. Alibaba, a Chinese-based e-commerce company, is also planning to open its own car vending machine next year.
While space is not a critical issue in a place like Texas, these vending machines do serve another purpose: advertising. Wouldn’t a glass-fronted building, 8 stories-high, with cars zipping around on elevators right in front of your eyes make you think twice before heading down to your boring, old dealership? The vending machines also save the company money on delivering the cars themselves.
Companies like Carvana are disrupting the used car market, but they’re also making buying used cars fun: customers even get an oversized commemorative coin to put into the ‘vending machine’ slot when they collect their car.
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