Update, 3/2: A Carvana spokesperson has confirmed to Swamplot that the company’s first Houston vending machine will be located at 10939 Katy Fwy. This story has been updated.
Online car dealership Carvana appears to have been planning to place a multi-story robotic car delivery system on the I-10-side lot that Big Tex Tree Nursery vacated after the December holidays wrapped up. A reader notes some construction bid documentation dating from September listing a project for the company at the 10939 Katy Fwy. address: The documents show a search for construction contractors for a ‘car vending machine’, scoped to involve multi-level car storage and an automated lift to bring vehicles down to the 1st floor on command.
But it looks like those plans fell through — at least as far as the location on the former Big Tex lot. Permits were issued last month to non-digital car dealer chain DriveTime for construction of a new sales building on the site. DriveTime currently has 4 locations around the Houston area, including one further west on the Katy Fwy. past Highway 6.
Carvana plugged in its first vending machine in Nashville last November, after jumping into the Houston market in October. The above video shows the Tennessee machine in action: cars are shuffled down from their glassy perch after users place a Carvana token into a coin slot.
Carvana jumped into the Houston market in October, but has so far mostly relied on delivery rather than pick-up options for its client base in 6 Southern cities. Carvana opened a 30-acre distribution-and-photography center in Grand Prairie in July and told the HBJ that it plan to expand its Houston employee base from 5 to 50. In November, the company also mentioned plans to roll out more vending machines.
- Carvana Opens World’s First, Fully-Automated, Coin-Operated Car Vending Machine [Business Wire]
- Auto-sales startup arrives in Houston area [HBJ]
- CEO of online auto retailer Carvana talks Texas expansion [HBJ]
- Previously on Swamplot: Big Tex Tree Nursery Uprooted from Katy Freeway
Video: Carvana via YouTube