In Brief

Ford opens cat-themed car vending machine in China

Test-drive service allows users to trial vehicles using a smartphone app

Ford is giving car buyers in the Chinese city of Guangzhou the chance to test drive a host of vehicles using a cat-themed vending machine. 

Developed in partnership with the tech giant Alibaba, the “Super Test-Drive Centre” allows users to trial “dozens of Ford vehicles” ranging from executive saloons to sports cars, Tech Crunch reports. 

The multi-story facility, which sports cats’ eyes and ears on the roof, can be accessed using Alibaba’s Tmall shopping app, the tech site says. Users simply arrive at the vending machine and select the car they want to drive.

Once users receive their car, they can test drive it for up to three days, according to Engadget. But before taking their car for a spin, users must pay the “necessary” fees, arrange a collection date and share a selfie through the Tmall app.

According to The Verge, China’s controversial social credit system, which ranks citizens on their social behaviour, will be compatible with the Super Test-Drive Centre. 

People with a score of 700 or above – which is considered a “very respectable” social credit in China – won’t be required to pay fees to use the service, the site says. Chinese citizens without a transaction history will be given a score of 550 as standard.

The vehicle vending machine isn’t a permanent service. Ford and Alibaba plan to close the test-drive trial on 23 April.

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