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Online Car Retailer Launching Nation's First Car "Vending Machine" 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the correct-change-only dept.
cartechboy writes "Last year's Gallup poll showed that car salespeople are the least trusted professionals in America, ranking even below members of Congress. Enter, Carvana, an online dealership operating in Atlanta, Georgia. They allow customers to shop for cars online, secure loans online, and pay for cars online. Now they have gone one step farther and are claiming to remove the despised car salesperson from test drives and even post-purchase pickup by creating, yes, a giant auto vending machine. The facility, which will open at the end of November, will be a fully digital, 24-7 interactive 'vehicle-delivery center' designed to offer customers pick-up options after purchasing a vehicle online. They'll have floor-to-ceiling windows, custom LED lighting, flat screen TV's plus interactive keypads that identify customers based on unique buyer credentials. There will be three car pickup bays to allow for simultaneous pickups. One thing they won't have: car sales people (Note: there will be customer service reps there to answer questions). Carvana plans to expand on the idea, presumably if this Atlanta facility works."
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Online Car Retailer Launching Nation's First Car "Vending Machine"

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  • Schedule test drives online......

    I mean no weekend trips (they probably limit the time/mileage/etc), but need to go shopping or head to the car dealership? perfect!

    • This was my first thought. You probably couldn't do it all the time, but once in a blue moon it could be quite handy for some 30 minute errand.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Schedule test drives online......

      I mean no weekend trips (they probably limit the time/mileage/etc), but need to go shopping or head to the car dealership? perfect!

      How will you drive to the car pick-up place? It's probably outside town.

  • by hessian (467078) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @06:29AM (#45480115) Homepage Journal

    Carmakers like Saturn (RIP) offered no-haggle pricing and compensated their sales staff for being consumer-oriented.

    The reason car salespeople are horrible is that they're set up to compete with the consumer for a concealed amount of money that is either in rebate or discount to the dealer.

    Thus for the consumer, it's guesswork against a predatory salesperson interested only in their commission.

    • by flyneye (84093) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @06:49AM (#45480157) Homepage

      It's true. Out of the plethoral diversity of jobs I've taken, car salesman was one I ducked out of for moral reasons. During the morning I shadowed experienced sales, during the afternoon, I trained from "the book". Basically , it's a book that shows you HOW to lie, what you can get away with and the techniques for prying money from innocents hands for a car that may or may not suit them. You don't care, as long as they spend MORE money than they came in to spend. I woke up one morning two weeks later, fixed breakfast, stayed home and felt good about myself. I had another job by afternoon.

      • There's a car dealership in the Phoenix area who when customers came to test drive, they literally threw their keys on the roof, and if the customer wanted to leave they made them sit down for up to 8 hours while they "find" their keys, meanwhile putting sales pressure on them the whole time to buy a new car.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Yeah, that "no haggle pricing" is BS. you can still haggle and I always do.

    • by Coward Anonymous (110649) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @08:05AM (#45480379)

      No, the real reason the whole car buying experience is horrific is that there is no competition, by law. Car dealerships have indefinite, irrevocable monopolies in the regions they cover due to historical events that occurred 90 years ago. The real solution is to erase outdated laws, break the monopolies and open the market to real competition.

      Here is a podcast about it:

      http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/02/19/172402376/why-buying-a-car-never-changes [npr.org]

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I work at a dealership, didn't watch your video, but there are some reasons it is like this.

        Manufactureres want to keep quality control. To do warranty work you have to be certified by the manufacturer. They don't want any yahoo with a socket set doing warranty work or recalls and making things worse for the customer. It hurts the customer experience and their reputation. The manufacturers also can't monitor everyone who wants to do warranty work, or have enough parts in every possible dealership for th

        • by mjr167 (2477430)
          Why don't they do what other industries do and just sell the car to the dealer who is the responsible for reselling it to a customer? If the dealers paid for the inventory, they wouldn't buy inventory they couldn't move and the manufacture wouldn't give a shit if the dealer sold the car or it sat on their lot for ten years.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            They charge warranty work back to the manufacturer. The manufacturer doesn't want to pay for shoddy work that will have to be redone. If they don't have such a deal, the dealership couldn't fix issues with a brand new vehicle because they couldn't charge it back. Would you buy from a dealership that couldn't fix a cracked window from transit to the dealership? You would have to take it to another dealership to have it fixed.

            Another factor, most dealerships have vehicles on lot at cost to the manufacture

            • by Anonymous Coward

              His question was why doesn't the entire industry change. Your response "refutes" it by using assumptions about how the industry is without the change.

              This is why no one like salesmen of any kind. (Car salesmen are about the only real salesmen left with which the public has to interact)

        • by PPH (736903)

          Its the business model that manufacturers came up with decades ago. They wanted to push product out of the factory and to independent car lots so as not to have to deal with inventory. Also, many car sales are made based on impulse. Dealers have something shiny on their lot and that will sway some customers. Usually the dumbest and most profitable. The warranty service issue is legitimate, but that could be solved by having authorized service centers operating as independent entities from the dealerships. S

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        No, the real reason the whole car buying experience is horrific is that there is no competition, by law. Car dealerships have indefinite, irrevocable monopolies in the regions they cover due to historical events that occurred 90 years ago.

        The only "law" that concerns this is contract law.

        The manufacturer has a contract with each dealership not to grant another dealership within X miles the right to sell that brand of car. But X is highly variable, as I can find at least 3 dealerships for each of the major brands within a 25-mile drive, which isn't very far at all to go if you can save even 1% on the price of a new car.

    • Saturn, yep. I bought my first new car from them. Their set $1000 markup on each car (calculated from numerous investigative articles I read) paid for nicer salesmen, follow up after the sale, and general overall customer satisfaction services (they sent me cookies and balloons). It was a refreshing change and part of the reason they were so liked by their customers. Though I must say we have a local Lexus dealership which was pretty close in experience. And I usually will haggle for a hour or two.
      • Never had the opportunity to deal with a Saturn dealership but have been pleased with with the BMW dealership down the road from my work in the past. They are a no haggle place but cash in hand seems to change that. They also don't seem to pull the BS that other dealerships do but it seems that higher end dealerships do offer better service and less dodgy employees. The worst experiences I have had were at the local chain of dealers that run advertisements stating "Buy happy" and one of those small independ
      • by Quirkz (1206400)

        I talked to Saturn in '97 when I was looking for my first car. The sales person I got was a trainee but very nice, but because she was a trainee (I think) some manager jumped in at the end and put on a pretty high-pressure pitch that really turned me off. Maybe that was an exception, though, based on other comments.

        I bought my last car at a CarMax, and the agent there was genuinely low-pressure, which I really appreciated.

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      If one has USAA or a similar insurance company, they usually have a program where one can buy through them and get a vehicle for invoice or invoice a C-note.

      This is why car dealers are so deathly afraid of Tesla -- their games and shenanigans just don't fly when one can purchase a car without haggling, lowballing, or dealing with the manager/sales droid shell game.

      Of course, if you want to know liars, try buying an RV in the US. In Europe and Australia, any rig will be of decent quality. Here, it is expec

  • by zippo01 (688802) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @06:33AM (#45480121)
    If I shake it real hard will a free car fall out?
  • We fill up ourselves in most gas stations, now we have car vending machines. Next, fix your car yourself in human less garages.

    This is really great news.

    • by bleh-of-the-huns (17740) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @09:48AM (#45481121)

      Actually, that used to be possible. There were some shops that rented out bays and tools, and had mechanics on staff to assist if you wanted it. Great for those easy jobs that you get ripped off on, say like brake jobs, $2500 quote for all for wheels for my AMG.. fancy car aside, I did it myself with $1k in parts, rotors are kinda pricey, a jack, and about 2 hours, and most of that time was jacking the car up and down. Would have been nice to have a lift I could have rented, took me 5 min per wheel for parts swap.

      However, most of those shops that used that business model in the DC/MD/VA area are no longer in business, so guessing the business model was not profitable. There also used to be some shops that rented out the bays and lifts on weekends when they were closed, but they stopped due to liability issues.

      Maybe it will catch on again in the future, but for now.. I'm stuck with jacks and jack stands.. or spend $4k and get a portable half high lift.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @07:11AM (#45480215) Journal
    With some probable exceptions, car salesmen aren't genetically-engineered-dispicable-abhumans or anything, they are just what you get at the pointy end of a system designed to resist non totally-fucked-up market pricing through a mixture of social flimflam, feature obfuscation, mandatory bundling, etc. (Sort of like trying to get an actual 'price' for a nontrivial medical procedure, except that with the car you are usually conscious the entire time, making it less pleasant)

    If you aren't trying to fuck around on prices, I'd venture to guess that you'll automagically get at least apathetic salespeople, rather than overtly slimy ones. Actually good ones might require additional management and technique. However, at the same time, it's not as though there aren't dozens of ways to design confusing and abusive web interfaces for inhibiting comparison shopping, pre-filling unhelpful checkboxes, hiding useful things, and generally shoving the user around.

    Barring gross incompetence on the part of either the management or the web devs, the experience is going to follow the economics. Are you running a business moving goods you think people will want at clearly stated prices? Your humans or your website will likely be pretty easy to deal with. Are you fucking around with the user? You'll either get slimy pressure-jockeys in person, or an absurdly unhelpful and downright malicious site. The medium is not the message, in this case.
  • by dargaud (518470) <[ten.duagradg] [ta] [2todhsals]> on Thursday November 21, 2013 @07:27AM (#45480241) Homepage
    And the makers don't want to make it easy on you. For instance I was trying to compare the inside volume of minivans. All the makers had sites in Flash with the dimensions and other stats impossible to extract, much less to compare even with other models of the same brand. Had to write them down manually in a spreadsheet. Of course some magazines have nice charts for you but they tend to go for the flashy models and anyway aren't interested to publish specs for anything from the current year or older.
  • by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @07:36AM (#45480271)
    Traditional car dealerships are owned by wealthy, powerful folks who've managed to preserve their monopoly via lobbying their local and state legislatures to force the auto manufacturers to sell thru the dealer chain. This forced "3 tier" system (a lot like the others many states enforce on commodities which throw off a lot of tax revenue, like alcohol, where a chosen few are granted a limited number of licenses) does nothing to help the consumer -- instead, it limits choice and artificially drives up the price. There's no practical reason for these laws in 2013, yet we still have them. I'm hoping that companies like this one and Tesla manage to disrupt the obsolete, 20th Century business model, but I have my doubts.
    • I disagree somewhat. The laws do not require a dealer chain. Anyone can open a dealership up if you have the funds to do so. That is where the problem lies, dealerships with service centers require significant amounts of money, and in many cases only the wealthy and powerful who own chains can afford to do so.

      Laws requiring vehicles be sold through independent dealers suck, and I do not agree with them, but they are there for now.

  • This means you can be absolutely ruthless with the price . . . you can get the same thing anywhere else. Do your homework online and find the price that people are actually paying, and call every dealer within 150 miles and ask for their best price. Start playing them against each other, and eventually, one will work with you -- typically towards the end of the quarter when they're all trying to make their number, or at the end of a model year when they have excess inventory. If you don't get exactly wha
    • Also go in with cash in hand for the amount you are willing to pay for the car, this is more than your initial offer. Let the sales person you know you have cash and if they won't deal walk away. They usually change there tune when you are about 5 feet from the door. When I go to a dealer the only thing the sales person does is goes and fetches the vehicle or vehicles I am interested in as I have already done my research and know what I want to see when I show up so I don't need them to try and pick out a v
    • by speedlaw (878924)
      The reason for options and such is that so no two cars are alike. There will always be the ones on the lot that don't match whatever you researched on line. (unless you buy to order, rare in the US) so the pricing isn't clear...by design. This poster is on, though. When you go car shopping, do it at the end of the month, on a bad weather day, and fully expect to spend at least an hour, maybe two, in each dealership. If you go in expecting this to take way longer than it should, you have negated the time
      • There are several websites that detail not only dealer invoice pricing, but also addon invoice pricing. Knowing what the dealer paid gives you a major advantage in the negotiation, and you can compute exactly how much they're trying to screw you and how much you're willing to put up with. Some places, especially in the major cities where there's competition, will actually be pretty reasonable about this.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      Mod up for truthiness!
      I worked for a used car lot and their business works similarly.

      Buy the way they buy from each other (dealers sell used vehicles back and forth directly and at dealer auctions). Know your product, decide what it's worth to you, and don't buy out of lust.

      Also, unless you are rich, avoid new vehicles and instead buy clean private party vehicles you first have inspected elsewhere. Letting someone else eat the depreciation is a great tactic.

      • by HungWeiLo (250320)

        I've always been a good car buyer and trying to buy "cream puffs" that are about 4-6 years old, so that the hardest hit of the depreciation has already been priced into the car.

        However, that's getting harder these days as used car prices are through the roof. When I was shopping for my last car (~$35k), the market price I was seeing for a 3-year-old model with 30k miles was only $2000 less than a new one - even for a private party sale without the dealer markup. So it's making less and less sense to buy use

  • by jittles (1613415) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @08:28AM (#45480507)
    Go to Wolfsburg, Germany and you can see twin towers that do the same thing. I didn't buy a car there, I only visited, so I don't know all the details. My understanding is that you go there, pick out the car you want, and then you go to the tower and watch the robot pick it up and deliver it like a coke in a vending machine. I watched it serve up a few cars. It's pretty cool.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I believe it works differently: you order your car (whatever color, options... you want) at a local dealership, tell them you want to pick it up at wolfsburg, they tell you when it will be ready, you go there, and you'll be able to pick up your car that will be stored in one of those silos.

  • first they seem to only sell used cars
    and a quick check of honda acords,their prices aren't cheap. $20,000 for a 2012 model. and the cheap one at that with no options

    the prices at the dealers are the same and i can trade my old car with them at the same time

  • when car brakes after falling in Vending machine you own it and must pay costs to get it fixed. No refunds as well.

    • when car brakes after falling in Vending machine you own it and must pay costs to get it fixed. No refunds as well.

      What if the machine breaks the brakes before the brake can break the brakes?

    • If a car brakes will falling in a vending machine, it will be fine as the brakes performed as intended... Now if the car breaks, that's a different story :)

  • My wife and I just bought a used current-year model from Enterprise, the rental car people, and did most of the work at home on my computer. Found the models we were interested in, the price and mileage, and then went to the dealership, about a mile from home. And they were willing to go to other Enterprise dealers, 20-30 miles from here, at no charge, to get a model for me to look at, with no pressure on me to buy it once I'd seen it. They had many models to choose from, and there was no pressure to buy.
  • Misread headline as "Car Railgun Launching First Car"

  • No way they're rated below politicians. Must be a really old survey.

  • by Pirulo (621010)
    it will be programmed by car salesmen
  • Eh, I liked this version [shifteast.com].

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