- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2015

An auto dealership in Tennessee is attempting to make buying a car as hassle-free as purchasing a Snickers bar with a five-story vending machine unveiled in Nashville this week.

The company behind the project, Carvana, has been in the auto business for a few years already and saw success with a project in 2014 that bragged of letting shoppers order a car over the Internet in only 20 minutes; its revenue skyrocketed to $45 million that year from only $4 million in 2014, and it’s now looking towards making 2015 a record year with the help of its latest gimmick that’s equal parts auto-dealership and arcade game.

Customers who want to use the vending machine unveiled this week still have to order their car online, but once they’ve made a purchase it’s as easy as pushing a few more buttons.

“The experience itself is exactly a vending machine experience,” Carvana co-founder Ernie Garcia told The Verge this week. “The customer even gets a customized, oversized coin that they drop into a slot.”

That coin then triggers a robotic arm, which in turns scours the five-story tower for the correct car, grabs it and brings it back to the ground where it’s then driven over by another robot to its new owner. The multi-level structure is connected to three delivery bays and can hold as many as 20 cars as once. 

Carvana boasted previously that its streamlined online ordering system saves customers an average of about $1,500 off Kelly Blue Book prices by eliminating overhead, and even offers a 100-day warranty and a one-week return policy.

“We knew that if [customers] chose to pick up the car we would save some money, and so we could invest that money in giving them a really, really great experience,” he told The Verge.

“I think what we’re trying to create is a fun way to pick up your car that is also metaphorically representative of what we are as a brand. … It’s fun, it’s easy, it’s automated, and the customer is in control,” Mr. Garcia said.

“And I think if we’ve got the car that they’re looking for, and we’re selling it for $1,500 to $2,000 less, and we offer a purchase process that takes 20 minutes, and then you get to go to a vending machine and watch your car moonwalk to you? I think people are going to respond to that.”

 

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