Carvana, an online used car retailer known for its “car vending machines,” debuted its 36th one this week in Fort Worth—a 12-story eye-catcher that is as tall as any in the U.S. The company told us only three other Carvana vending machines match the new one’s height, at locations in Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Richmond.
“From concept to opening, we spent a full year designing and building the Fort Worth Vending Machine,” David Klemow, a public relations specialist with Tempe, Arizona-based Carvana, told Dallas Innovates via email. “Every decision we made was driven by consumer insights and our desire to create an amazing user experience, and we’re excited to see the result in launching today.”
Last June, a filing with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation showed a projected $5.5 million budget for the project at 8741 North Freeway in Fort Worth, according to Community Impact. Able to store up to 43 vehicles, the steel-and-glass structure is Carvana’s sixth vending machine in Texas. Another, less tall local version is in Frisco, off the Sam Rayburn Tollway near Legacy Road. Many of the company’s other vending machines, including one that recently opened in Houston, are eight stories tall, Klemow said.
How the vending machine works
No, you don’t walk up to the vending machine, stick in thousands of dollars, and push a button when you see a car you like. Instead, Carvana customers shop for cars online and can choose to either pick up their vehicle at one of the company’s vending machines or have the vehicle delivered to their home.
When buyers opt for the vending machine pick-up, they get “a commemorative, oversized Carvana coin” upon their arrival at the tower, then use it to activate the automated vending process—which causes their newly purchased vehicle to descend through the tower’s brightly lit structure.
You may notice no test drive occurred in that process. Instead, all vehicles in Carvana’s national inventory come with a “150-point inspection” and a seven-day return policy, the company says.
Navigating struggles including stock drop, layoffs
Carvana has had something of a rocky year. Just today, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that the company has terminated its 570,000-square-foot sublease in an office tower in an Atlanta suburb, a year after announcing plans to hire 3,500 employees in the area.
That news followed a $36 billion drop in the company’s market cap in 2022, and layoffs of 18% of its global workforce in the same year. According to a February article by The Street, Carvana thrived during the pandemic, when a sharp rise in demand sent used-car prices soaring. But after buying a large inventory of cars, the company saw prices come back down to earth just as rising interest rates began hurting the market.
That one-two punch, along with rising debt and decreased cash on hand, are part of why Carvana’s stock price has dropped from a high of $360 in August 2021 to a close of $9.37 today.
‘Here for the long haul’
Despite the company’s struggles, Klemow says “Carvana is here for the long haul”—which would seem to position the new Fort Worth Vending Machine as a beacon for a potential turnaround.
“Carvana’s Car Vending Machines are an iconic reflection of the company and how we’ve changed automotive retail for the better on behalf of millions of customers and counting,” Klemow added. “Our conviction has never wavered and we’ve proven that our model works. We have been embraced by the community in Dallas and Fort Worth since we launched here in 2015, and our newest Car Vending Machine is a really exciting way for us to reinforce our commitment to the region.”
Carvana market operations manager Matt Plummer echoed Klemow’s optimism.
“We all know things are a bit bigger in Texas, so now we’re proud to offer a larger-than-life car buying experience to Fort Worth residents with our newest Car Vending Machine,” Plummer said in a statement. “Customers in Fort Worth have access to a national inventory with thousands of great vehicles, at great prices, and now they’ve got a vehicle pickup experience that’ll drive them even happier.”
Get on the list.
Dallas Innovates, every day.
Sign up to keep your eye on what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth, every day.