Memphis Commercial Appeal
An automobile ”vending machine” may soon rise along Interstate 40 in Memphis.
Carvana, the online seller of used automobiles, has applied for zoning changes so it can erect a fulfillment center, which the company more colorfully calls a “vending machine.”
Carvana, a unique online automotive retailer that dispenses its cars through a nine-story vending machine, is open in Tempe on June 20, 2018. Tom Tingle, Arizona Republic
Customers who make an online purchase and who live in the Memphis area would schedule a pickup time, come to the site, insert a large coin token into a slot and watch as the vehicle they bought is robotically moved from upper-level storage to the ground.
The center would be the second in Tennessee; three years ago in Nashville Carvana opened a fulfillment center encased in glass so the vehicles and their automated deliveries could be seen.
From 2015 in Nashville: Carvana vending machine spins used car industry on new path
Carvana would build the 5,800-square-foot building — up to 75 feet tall — on two acres in the Appling Farms Planned Development owned by Belz Investment Company LP. The now-vacant site fronts the north edge of I-40 and is between Main Event on the east and Great American Home Store on the west.
The existing rules of the planned development restrict building height to 65 feet; Carvana requests up to 75 feet.
The company also seeks permission to install four attached signs and five logo placards. The existing rules allow up to five attached signs.
Carvana on Monday declined to comment specifically about any plans for Memphis. But did say in an email response:
“Carvana is the new way of buying a car, so we are always looking for opportunities to potentially expand our services in new or existing markets, including the construction of new Car Vending Machines.
But Carvana’s letter of intent to the Land Use Control Board touts what the company says are advantages to the way it sells used cars.
“… Carvana’s proposed use differs significantly from a traditional automobile sales facility,” the letter states. “Rather than utilizing large surface parking areas to store and display inventory on-site, Carvana facilitates the sale of used vehicles online at Carvana.com.
“The cars are then transported to the state-of-the-art Vending Machine Fulfillment Center (the ‘Vending Machine’) located nearest the customer. Through the use of the Vending Machine, Carvana has transformed the stress-filled car buying experience into a user-friendly and exciting customer experience,” the letter states.
The Memphis location would be Carvana’s 13th vending machine center.