The experience of buying cars these days can get a little boring; you can either visit showrooms from a choice of hundreds or approach strangers online only to realise that the Volkswagen Mini you fancied is just an impressively modified Perodua Kelisa.
Not with Autobahn Motors (ABM)
in Singapore, though.
Basking under the warm spotlight of the media since early 2017, this family run business has been the talk of major news outlets around the globe including interview invites from the BBC, Reuters and a multitude of media and news companies online due to its super unique 'vending machine' structure
The 15-storey building, located near Tiong Bahru in Singapore, is capable of displaying up to 60 luxury vehicles - from Ferraris to Lamborghinis and Bentleys - stacked one on top of another.
Besides the ‘eye-candiness’ of this tall structure, perhaps the next most unique feature to ABM’s showroom is the out-of-this-world experience of purchasing a car.
Using a 'fish bone' system, its advanced retrieval system, dubbed the Automotive Inventory Management System (AIMS), will retrieve a vehicle for your viewing in less than two minutes
Curious and obviously impressed, we at Rojak Daily
decided to check out the 'vending machine' and try to find out how easy (and unique) it is to buy a luxury car from ABM.
With the patience and assistance of Krez Hong, the nephew of general manager Gary Hong, we were brought on an exclusive tour around the building.
Let’s step into our shoes and find out how’s it like to buy a car from ABM!
IT'S JUST LIKE YOUR REGULAR SHOWROOM - EXCEPT IT'S NOT!
For traditional showrooms to accommodate SIXTY TO EIGHTY cars
, you’d expect a pretty large showroom to trek and even hike up different floors.
However, all we had to do was just to stand in their modest, fuss-free lobby which is equipped with two garage shutter doors.
Stepping into the lobby, we felt genuinely privileged - without the effort of walking around to view the luxury cars, we were given two choices on how we would like to view our dream car: 1) large terminals at each shutter doors or 2) a tablet and a large screen in a classy well-designed room.
CHECKING OUT CARS LIKE A BOSS
The first option is by the terminal right next to their garage doors. The experience is more hands-on as we commanded a car down from one of its towers for our viewing pleasure.
From the terminal, with its simple interface, we went through their catalogue of cars showing details such as price, year of make and even a specially-made video of the selected vehicle model.
Once the car reaches the lobby, you can then 'play' around with it - marvel at its beauty, sit in the driver's seat and yes, snap a couple of selfies.
Now, the second option of viewing a vehicle is a little bit more unique, and it raised hairs on our arms - quite literally, as we were ushered into their cool air-conditioned ‘Showroom’
which boasts a huge curved TV and a home theater sound system.
Curious to why ABM installed them, we were then promptly asked to select which car we'd like to view on a dedicated tablet ABM equipped us with.
Craving for something exotic, we pointed to the Ferarri Dino 308GT4 and right away, a video about the vehicle we selected started playing on their massive 60” curved screen TV.
The whole experience was very immersive - credit goes to their home theater system - as on our left, the Ferrari was on its way down from a few storeys above whilst the video’s bass was resonating within our body.
At the same time, to our right, a red Bentley Continental GT descended from storeys above from a request submitted by another customer who ordered the car via the terminal at the lobby.
By the time the video finished playing, our sexy Ferarri Dino 308GT4 was already waiting for us at the viewing gallery.
Here's how the whole thing looks from our point-of-view:
NOW, HERE COMES THE FUN PART!
ABM’s building is divided into a few simple parts; there are two towers, both of which are capable of accommodating 30 cars, a special floor that can house up to 20 cars for private viewing and an office floor where the staff are located.
After we posed for some pictures with the Ferrari, we then asked Krez for the impossible: could we go up to one of the towers to see how it would look like from up top?
Thankfully for us, Krez said OK to our request and we got an exclusive tour of the tower itself. Krez ordered a Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet 1.4 convertible and we jumped into the vehicle as it brought us up to the 14th floor.
The whole experience of going up and coming down only took five minutes
- that is how long it usually takes for a car to be ordered down.
Considering that an average luxury car easily weighs over a tonne and they have to make sure that safety measures are in place to ensure no accidents happen, a five-minute roundtrip is really FAST!
HOW DO YOU PURCHASE A CAR FROM ABM?
Initially, we thought that buying a car from ABM was as easy as swiping our credit card and voila, we drive home with the car.
Well, that's not how it works, Krez told us.
We were told that the largest misconception of ABM is that one can easily buy car(s) by swiping their credit card and selecting it from a menu - like dispensing drinks out of a vending machine.
Besides the arduous task of managing financial documents, insurance and other red tapes, the buyer will still needs to wait for approval from different governing and regulatory agencies for the approval of a purchase.
Which is basically the same as buying a normal Toyota or Proton from your local showroom.
Krez told us that ABM has a team of ten staff in their office managing all administrative works, so a high-roller buyer does not really have to wait that long to get the keys to his Lamborghini.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
This family run business isn’t a new player in the automotive industry in Singapore.
Since 1992, Gary Hong (GM) and his brothers have been selling cars and this is their latest venture. Building the vending machine showroom took around two years; from conceptualising the idea, getting approvals from the relevant authorities and the actual construction of the building.
Previously, Krez told us that cars were displayed traditionally in a tight space. When customers wanted to get into a particular car or even open its doors, cars on its sides have to be manually driven or reversed away.
On top of that, as they were also displayed outdoors, frequent washing of cars were required, otherwise the million dollar vehicles would look dusty and unappealing to potential buyers.
Initially they had also considered a basement type of parking but with limited land space, the idea could only accommodate 10 cars and evidently, the idea of a vertical showroom was the best choice.
And that's how the 'vending machine' showroom was born.
If you happen to be in Singapore, we recommend that you check the showroom out and we guarantee that you'll have a great time.
We certainly did.