You can buy any number of things from vending machines these days. Quite apart from the usual snacks, drinks and cigarettes, around the world you might also come across:

  • A vending machine in China selling live crabs kept in a state of hibernation at a regulated temperature
  • A vending machine in Japan selling lettuce freshly grown in the machine itself
  • A vending machine in Singapore selling books
  • A vending machine in Abu Dhabi selling gold
  • A vending machine in the United States selling bait for ill-prepared fishers

We’ve also recently looked at the current phenomenon of vending machines selling personal protective equipment (PPE).

But surely none of the above can match the concept – or scale of ambition – of a car vending machine.

What is a car vending machine?

A car vending machine isn’t quite the same sort of thing as the vending machines you’ll find in your work canteen or local leisure centre. You don’t have to put several thousand pounds’ worth of coins into a slot and then wait while the machine drops your chosen car into a tray at the bottom for you to retrieve and drive away.

Although it is closer to that principle than you might imagine!

The Carvana car vending machine

The idea first surfaced in the United States (where else? Okay, maybe Japan…) and was introduced by a company called Carvana. Their first version was unveiled in 2013, but their first coin-operated (we’ll come back to this shortly) and fully-automated machine was opened in 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.

The dealerships are built over several storeys (the one in Indianapolis, Indiana, has seven storeys), and are usually made primarily out of glass in a steel frame. They’re very impressive structures!

You choose your car online, where you can opt to have it delivered to your home or for you to pick it up at the ‘vending machine’ of your choice. If you go for the latter, you pay in advance and then head to the dealership. An employee will greet you and hand you a large, ceremonial coin, which you drop into a slot.

That causes the automation within the building to bring your chosen car from whichever floor it has been stored down to the ground for you to collect and drive away. Because there is no opportunity to test drive the vehicle beforehand, you do have seven days to return it if you’re not entirely satisfied.

If you think the idea all sounds a bit silly or just a marketing ploy, think again, because Carvana has been very successful. In 2020, the company sold over 244,000 vehicles and posted an annual revenue of over $5.5 billion.

At the time of writing there are 24 Carvana car vending machines scattered across the United States.

Car Vending Machines in the UK

There is no UK equivalent of Carvana car vending machines at the moment, but in 2019, Auto Trader did introduce the UK’s first car vending machine.

Nowhere near the scale of the American model we’ve just been looking at, the Auto Trader car vending machine was situated at London’s Spitalfields Market and contained a single, brand new Renault Zoe. 

Potential buyers could agree a ‘pre-haggled price’ beforehand and then collect the car from the vending machine, making a contactless payment via their phone.

In this case, the conceptx was basically a marketing ploy, intended to demonstrate how poor the British are at haggling, and how much easier it is to do remotely rather than face to face in a dealership.

While we at Nu Vending consider ourselves to be operating at the forefront of vending machine technology, we have no plans to introduce car vending machines to our range quite yet.

But for the very best in food and drinks vending machines, coffee machines and water dispensers, all using the latest smart technology, you can’t do better than choose Nu Vending.

Contact us now to find out more.