Carvana: Everything you need to know about Orlando's new vending machine for cars

What's up with latest attraction on I-4? We'll tell you

ORLANDO, Fla. – Have you heard of Carvana, an online platform for buying cars, that includes an in-person element, where you can pick up your vehicle from a so-called car vending machine?

It sounds crazy, right? Picking up your car from a vending machine, as if you’re buying a Snickers bar? Let’s back up.

Carvana is a leading e-commerce platform for buying used cars, unveiled its newest “machine” in Orlando on Thursday, adding to the unique landmarks along I-4 in the Orlando area.

“Delivering a unique and memorable pickup experience for cars purchased online, Carvana is making car buying fun again with the fully automated, coin-operated car vending machine, which stands eight stories high, and holds up to 30 vehicles,” the company said.

There are 10 Carvana locations nationwide. Not all of them have eight stories, but the one in Orlando does. It sits just off Interstate 4, near John Young Parkway.

We had some questions about what this car-buying, or delivering, process will look like. Read on to see what we learned.

-- What’s the idea behind Carvana?

Carvana says that when people who are looking to buy a car start the researching process, 62 percent of their time is spent online. Meaning, if you take 10 hours to research a car, 6.2 of those hours were spent scouring the internet. So that’s where you are, for the most part: online. Why not stay online to complete the process? Why do you have to go to a dealership? Well, with Carvana, now you don’t. This cuts out the middleman. With Carvana, you do everything online, and then, when you’re ready to pick up your car -- well, if you’re picking up, but we’ll get to that in a bit -- your paperwork is all ready. You sign, they bring your car down and you drive away.

-- So where would I start?

Online. Buy the car and then Carvana will either deliver it to your door, or you can come pick it up at one of the car vending machines. More on this soon, as well.

-- How is Carvana’s vehicle selection?

Well, no one has “everything," but the company has a lot of cars. 

-- So you’re saying I can’t drive by Carvana, spot a beautiful orange Ford Mustang sitting on the tower, and go pick it up?

Right. All the vehicles you’ll see at Carvana, in the vending machine, are spoken for. They’ve already been purchased, and are just waiting to be picked up.


-- How quickly could I get a car?

If Carvana has the vehicle you want, and it’s available locally, you can have it within a day.

-- Can I test-drive some cars?

No. You browse online, pick one out, take it for a 360-degree virtual spin, buy it from your couch, choose delivery or pickup and then you have seven days to “test-own” it. The company says if you don’t end up liking the car you selected, you have seven days to return it, no questions asked.

-- Do I have to pick it up from the vending machine?

No. They can ship the car to your driveway. Carvana has four fulfillment centers, meaning four warehouses of vehicles to choose from.

-- But what’s the deal with the vending machine?

As we mentioned, it’s pretty big. Once you arrive to pick up your car, it’s “delivered” to you through the vending machine, so to speak. And then it’s yours: You own it. The tower is air-conditioned, so it takes some time for your vehicle to be prepared. Carvana employees will let the car breathe for a bit and air it out. You’ll get a coin, and when you’re ready to put it in “the machine,” you do so. Carvana will even make a music video for you, capturing the experience, so that you can post it to social media.

-- Does Carvana offer financing?

Yep, or you can come prepared with your own financing, as you might do if you were purchasing through a dealership.

-- How do you know about the car you’re buying? It’s used, right?

Yep. These are all good-quality used cars, according to the company. Carvana says the vehicles have never been in a wreck and they don’t have any frame damage. Also, Carvana has a relationship with Carfax, so that you’re in the loop when it comes to your vehicle’s history.

-- Why do I want to go through Carvana?

Well, it might not be for everyone. Maybe you’d prefer to go to a dealership. But with Carvana, there’s no finance manager and no showroom. No one will be trying to upsell you or haggle on a warranty. It’s a straightforward process. You see it online and buy it online.

Carvana, which is based in Phoenix, has been operating since 2015. The Orlando location is Carvana’s 11th car vending machine in just three years, and the third in the Sunshine State. There are already locations in Tampa and Jacksonville.

Would you ever try Carvana? Tell us why or why not in the comments.

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