By on December 15, 2016

Carvana dealership

Online used-car dealer Carvana opened its second coin-operated car “vending machine” in Houston, Texas. The four-bay location allows customers either to pick up cars they’ve purchased through the company’s website, or to buy one of the 30 vehicles in stock at the location.

While customers can have their purchase delivered directly, Carvana must think there are enough interested rubes willing to make a pitstop in Houston on their pilgrimage to the world’s biggest ball of twine to make this gargantuan novelty worthwhile. Considering that Las Vegas has remained on the map, there might be something to that way of thinking. 

“People responded so positively to our Nashville Vending Machine that we knew we had to bring the experience to additional markets. Houston is a natural fit for a Car Vending Machine, and we are thrilled to be able to offer customers this unique and, we hope, memorable pick-up option in addition to the free, as-soon-as next day delivery services we launched in Houston late last year,” said Ernie Garcia, founder and CEO of Carvana.

The company says the entire process is automated, although videos from the original site in Nashville always show a Carvana representative present — usually standing on a Hovertrax — to help select your vehicle, use the machine, and answer any questions that you might have. According to the company, buyers also have to arrive at a pre-scheduled time before the 7 P.M. closing time.

The giant fake coin and the cosmic-bowling lighting really finish off this futuristically hokey masterpiece. It’s a gimmick and one Carvana seems committed to using to drum up some attention. The company said it will fund customers’ airfare up to $200 and arrange transportation from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to the vehicle dispenser for those who live more than 100 miles outside of the Houston area.

According to VentureBeat, Carvana raised a sizable $160 million last August, bringing the total money raised to just below $500 million. Meanwhile, New York-based used car dealer Vroom took in $218 million over the last three years. There is a clear market for buying and selling cars online and, so long as nobody tells prospective buyers that major cities have had automated parking garages for years, Caravana will have its ace in the hole.

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23 Comments on “Carvana Opens Second Car ‘Vending Machine’ for the Credulous...”


  • avatar
    MrCornfed

    “on their pilgrimage to the world’s biggest ball of twine”

    Don’t knock it until you’ve seen it: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdac/19480422994/

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Considering that Las Vegas has remained on the map, there might be something to that way of thinking.”

    That’s pretty compelling evidence.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    There’s no space in the other biggest cities in the country, but building something like this in the middle of one is a great way to get your name out. I don’t see them making any more vending machine towers, but two is fine for the novelty.

  • avatar
    319583076

    I noticed this when I was in Houston last month. Then again, it’s hard to miss.

    OTOH – it seems that 90% of Interstate frontage in Houston is occupied by car dealerships, so this isn’t really out of place.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I’ve yet to see any TV advertising for Carvana (I’ve seen a couple of cars here in the DFW area with Carvana license frames). Why would I buy a car, fly in, and accept delivery, without ever having driven it? I don’t know its maintenance history, if it’s ever been wrecked (CarFax? Lol!), and if it’s worth the selling price. Maybe if they threw in a *good* 3/36 bumper-to-bumper warranty, I might consider it.

    “Houston is a natural fit for a Car Vending Machine…” Is that because Houston has no zoning laws? They do have some land use regulations, but in Houston it’s a lot easier to build what you want where you want, than most other places.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Consider yourself lucky for not having seen the TV ads, they’re quite annoying.

      Carvana’s schtick is for you to pick out a car online, arrange to pay for it, they bring it to you, and you then have a week to decide if you want to keep it. if you don’t like it, they come and get it. All there cars come with a three month warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I just saw a Carvana ad in Ohio this past week. Their prices were very good when looking online but the festive ad didn’t add anything to a possible sake.

  • avatar

    You are an unfit driver. Your children will now be placed in the custody of Carvana.

    Carvana – F**k You, I’m Driving!

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I’m sorry if this cheeses off the car salesmen, but: I could imagine taking my child here to buy a car and a goofy memory to giggle about over the years.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I didn’t have a good initial impression of these guys when they were completely unable to answer my questions about an RX450h they had in inventory last year.

    • 0 avatar
      tooloud10

      See, this is actually the appeal of this kind of thing for me. You shouldn’t rely on the people inside the dealership for the answers to ANY of your questions anyway, and not having to talk to them is the best part.

      I’m in the process of shopping for a couple of new cars right now and was immediately reminded of how sleazy the whole process is. A bunch of kid ‘salesmen’ that don’t know anything about the products and just want to fill out silly forms to waste as much of my time as possible to make me feel vested enough in the process to buy.

  • avatar
    Moparmann

    The Carvana “That Didn’t Suck” commercial has to be one of the all time most irritatingly stupid commericals EVER! (IMO)

  • avatar

    I hate when you go to buy a car out of the car vending machine and it gets stuck and is half hanging out. Although if you are lucky, you will get the stuck car that the guy before you left and the next car.

  • avatar
    shipping96

    There is one under construction in Austin. By I35 next to all the big car dealerships.

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