At the end of last year, Alibaba was planning to sell cars out of huge vending machines and had struck a deal with Ford to sell electric vehicles in China. Now, the project is pretty much a done deal. Fifteen hybrid Ford vehicles will reach China until 2025, as the impressive car vending machine is no longer a temporary project, but a full collaboration between Ford and e-commerce giant Alibaba.
The car vending machine is officially called the Super Test Drive Center and holds dozens of Ford-made vehicles, all ready to be picked up by drivers through a simple app, Tmail.
This allows users to pick up their favorite car, take it up for a three-day test ride and eventually, purchase it. They’re limited, though, to five cars each month. Of course, those who have a good history using Alibaba’s services can get various discounts and incentives.
It’s a deal that reminds us of the dystopian social rating system for China’s citizens we talked about back in December. Since then, we’ve seen reports that citizens with low ratings are banned from using public transportation like trains or airplanes.
After the Alibaba-Ford deal, some might say that this is all a big conspiracy. It starts with rating people based on their social media and trust scores, only to later punish or reward them with access to basic transportation. Since the social credit system was implemented with the help of Sesame Credit, a subsidiary of Alibaba, it would be far-fetched… but not really.
Thankfully, the truth always comes out – just think about the Cambridge Analytica fiasco!