Vending Machine Not Limited To Food And Drinks!

Guest writer, Lily, is excited about Kandis and cakes.

We have published article upon article about the myriad of problems associated with cars – there being too many of them, traffic congestion, pollution, exorbitant parking and fuel costs, and so on. As the car population increases each day, the world becomes increasingly crowded. But when coerced into a difficult situation, often humankind realises it potential for creativity!

Kandi Technologies Group (KTG) in Hangzhou, China has come up with a brilliant idea, targeted to address several of the issues mentioned above, with just one solution. In reducing smog (or rather, not contributing more to it), they produce only electric cars; in reducing the number of cars on the road, they offer a car-sharing service, which discourages car ownership; the most ingenious part of this solution is in overcoming space constraint – by inventing a car vending machine!

Kandi cars are stored in a giant, vertical vending machine. When a customer requests for one of the electric car, the machine’s mechanism will remove the car from the rack and deposit it outside through a door; when the customer is finished with it, they simply return it to the machine. Easy peasy! The cost of rental is a mere USD3.25 per hour. Each electric car can operate for 75 miles and achieve speeds of up to 50mph. The idea may not be completely novel, as multiple-racks and layered parking systems are available in many countries, but KTG had modified the idea to create a completely new business concept.

The middle class population in China will probably still want to own a car. If the vending machine is located near my house, and I was a homemaker who needed to chauffeur kids around for classes and activities, this service is convenient, hassle-free and carefree! However, if had a nine to five workday at an office, it may not be a viable option: add another hour for commute, I would require the car for nine hours a day or 180 hours a month. That would cost USD585 in rental. In three years, I would have spent USD21 060. In the US, I can buy myself a brand new Toyota Corolla Sedan for USD16 800 and become a proud owner, whereas the car-sharing vehicle belongs to the ‘consumers’.

There are still many variables, besides rental cost, that need to be considered. In Singapore, for instance, despite it being the most expensive place to own a car, many may not want to rent a car because of expensive parking rates and convenient train service as a cheaper alternative.

It is interesting that KTG, an electric car manufacturer, should venture into the car-sharing business. Customers are much more segmented now, forcing businesses to diversify it products and services to claim as big a piece of the market as possible. The reality is, no one is able to consume the whole cake due to the many minute segmentation of the market; product owners may diversify their business by eating a piece of strawberry cake, a piece of tiramisu and a piece of chocolate cake – hence, the many different car models under the same automotive brand – but there are hundreds more flavours and no one business can eat them all!

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