Car vending machine debuts in London

Vending box has a car with a set price, payment acceptor and key dispenser.

Published: August 24, 2019, 5:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 2:52 PM

Car Vending Machine

One of the knocks against the online marketplace for vehicles is that consumers still want to take that car out for a drive before agreeing to purchase.

Now, Auto Trader in the UK is launching Britain’s first vending machine — it has a vehicle in it, the price is set (no haggling), you can pay for it by card or Smartphone and you can drive it away. The auto vending machine is set up at Spitalfields Market in London, encasing a Renault Zoe (one of the country’s most searched for electric vehicles).

“Buying a brand-new car is an exciting experience, but it can often be tarnished by anxiety around haggling and knowing whether you’re looking at the right price,” said Auto Trader. “So today we’re showcasing a real-life version on what can be found on Auto Trader; brand new cars at transparent pre-haggled prices that you can drive away today. This Renault Zoe can be purchased at the touch of a card, testing London car buyers’ appetite for electric cars as well as a more instant purchasing future.”

The Zoe price is set at £16,000 (about $26,100 Canadian), in agreement with the selling dealer, Lookers Motor Group (the recommended selling price is £22,470, or about $36,700 Canadian). The price includes the various new car discounts and incentives often negotiated with Auto Trader on its no-haggle vehicle listings.

Six engineers spent three months designing and building the bespoke contactless vending machine, with a custom-made point of sale system, integrated payment acceptor, door release mechanism and key release function. It can be reused, showcasing vehicles with prices of up to £21,000 (about $34,300 Canadian).

The installation comes on the heels of a study of 2,000 British motorists, which showed 92% admitting they are bad at haggling a new car price and 89% admitting they find the practice uncomfortable and even embarrassing.

On the subject of stress levels during the car-buying process, 41% said haggling a price was stressful, followed by hidden costs (39%), worrying they made the wrong decision (28%), having to wait too long for delivery (25%) and understanding car terminology and jargon (23%).