Alibaba opens car vending machine in China that gives free test drives for people with good social credit

Photo Credit: Alibaba

Alibaba and Ford signed a deal to form a partnership last year that would see both companies working together on new technological opportunities. Now, the companies have opened a cat-themed car vending machine in Guangzhou, China, that lets customers easily test-drive Ford vehicles they’re looking to buy. The “Super Test-Drive Center” is an unstaffed, digital vending machine that works with the Tmall app. Users select the car model they’re interested in, put down a deposit electronically, schedule a pickup time, and snap a selfie so the vending machine can recognize them when they pick up the car for a test drive. The test drives are free, as long as customers have a very respectable credit score of 700 or above.

In China, the government rates citizens using a social ranking system. Alibaba’s credit ranking system known as Zhima or Sesame Credit has unclear links to the government’s social system which will eventually encompass credit rankings. In an email to The Verge,Alibaba said users with a Zhima score below 700 will have to pay a fee. According to Wiredusers start with a score of 550 when they have no transaction history, with scores ranging from 350 to 950.

And yes, there was indeed a Black Mirror episode about this type of societal ranking gone terribly wrong.


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