Doritos or a Dodge Challenger?
On Wednesday in San Antonio, Texas, Carvana, an e-commerce platform for used cars, is opening a vehicle vending machine, which is exactly what it sounds like.
The 4-year-old startup already has similar contraptions in Austin, Houston, and Nashville. Standing eight stories tall, the site is essentially a small garage with room for 30 cars. When a customer puts in a special “coin,” her car of choice is plucked from the rack like a bag of chips, albeit more delicately.
Customers buy their car in advance from the company’s online inventory of about 8,000 autos, then it’s loaded into the machine for the big reveal – as Carvana puts it: “A personalized and memorable pickup experience.”
Is it a gimmick? Of course. But it’s rare for a car dealer – particularly a used-car dealer – to embrace the surprise-and-delight mantra that most retailers subscribe to these days. Coffee that’s occasionally decent is about as far as most dealers go.