Quick Introduction: “Carvana” Headquarters in Tempe, Arizona

Odometer (Integra):  240,067

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a vending machine eat your quarters!  If you’re like me, you might have an unlucky relationship with them.  One Phoenix-based company called Carvana has made buying a used vehicle a lot like buying a Snickers.  (Photo credit:  Carvana)

The Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) received an invitation from Director of Communications Amy O’Hara to get a behind-the-scenes look at Carvana on Wednesday, September 6th at the company’s headquarters in Tempe, Arizona.

Carvana came about as part of DriveTime, but was spun off and currently operates as a standalone company.

The idea?  Simply put – to make car buying “not suck.”  Give people back their Saturdays, take away the stress and haggling, and ultimately, give people the power to make a vehicle purchase online as simply as they’d make a purchase on Amazon.com.  So far, it’s working.  Launched in 2013, Carvana now has over 7,000 cars in inventory, has expanded to 36 markets and 6 vending machines, and has been ranked in the top 5 on Forbes’ list of America’s Most Promising Companies.

The car buying process starts with a simple online search application where customers can narrow down their selections and find a vehicle that fits their needs.  From there, the financing (in-house), purchase, and even trade-in can be done online.  When the new vehicle is delivered, the trade-in gets picked up.  Seriously it’s a one-stop-shop operation.  Delivery can also be via one of the 6 vending machines (our closest here in Phoenix is Dallas) and Carvana offers $200 toward the outbound flight of the buyer if they elect to fly in and drive home.

Putting to rest any concerns about satisfaction, Carvana allows buyers a seven day, money-back guarantee so they can drive the vehicle they’ve purchased and find out if it really fits with their lifestyle.  Just for kicks, I searched for an Acura RLX.  There are 3 available.  Amy told us that buyers save on average $1,400 compared to Kelley Blue Book Retail values.

Amy showed our group around the Carvana headquarters overlooking the Rio Salado area.  It’s a large, modern, and open floorplan completed just a few months ago to house the roughly 600 colleagues who work there.  Employee perks are pretty sweet, too.  Among the neat features were a pickleball court, multiple refreshment areas (fully stocked!), and even a “library” equipped with comfortable leather couch and a secret bar that hides behind a rolling bookcase.  “When can I move in?” I felt like asking.  (Sorry, no photos of those special areas were allowed).

Carvana takes great pride in the people who it employs and who it serves.  There are two separate walls in the facility that are plastered in Polaroid-like images of happy customers taking delivery of their vehicles, and another wall dedicated exclusively to moms.  That’s right, a mom wall, showing photos of Carvana employees’ mothers taking delivery of their cars as well.  It truly does feel like a family atmosphere rather than an office or workplace.

Here’s a 30-second video showing a little about how the vending machine experiences goes.

To someone like me who has never purchased a vehicle “sight unseen” the thought of carrying out a complete automotive purchase process online is a little unsettling, but after seeing all the buyer protection in place and learning of the thousands of satisfied customers Carvana has picked up in its mere 4 years, maybe the company is on to something!  Many thanks to the Carvana team, and specifically to Amy, for letting PAPA pay a visit!

(Oh, and since we already asked:  No – you can’t shake the vending machine and get a free car, sorry)

 

9 Responses to “Quick Introduction: “Carvana” Headquarters in Tempe, Arizona”

  1. Cool concept! It strikes me as an online version of CarMax (and I prefer shopping online). The 7-day guarantee is a huge deal, especially since you’re buying a car without seeing it first.

    • Agreed, that was one of the comments that came up during our Q&A: “Who are your competitors?” It seems like Carvana has taken the CarMax thing one step further. The fully detailed 360-degree interior & exterior photographs definitely help simulate a real-life experience. However, I think a “test drive” will always be a requirement for me. How am I to know there aren’t any vibrations, alignment issues, funny engine noises, etc if I’m not actually putting a few miles on a vehicle? I’m glad Carvana’s concept is doing well though! I fully support the notion that avoiding “used car salespeople” is prime motivation for many.

  2. This really is a neat idea. I keep checking their website to see what I can order on a drunk charlies night. Thanks for putting this whole event together.

  3. I’ve seen this Carvana vending machine concept a while ago. Honestly my first impression was gimmick. My next thought was it’s one more step down the ladder toward marketing cars as appliances.

    We are witnessing the beginning of the end for cars as a significant rite of passage. Instead it’s evolving into an iPhone acquisition. The new mantra is don’t buy it, lease it because the tech will be obsolete long before your payments end.

    What will be interesting now is how many will risk buying a used car that may have had it’s title “laundered” because it came from some flood ravaged hurricane state versus a “clean” new car?

    • Lots of valid points you have there. I suppose it’s a sales strategy that works for those who do see a vehicle as an appliance. I can order a washer or dryer online for home delivery – why can’t I order a Camry the same way? Well, not “I” because you probably won’t see me using that technology, nor buying a Camry, but you know what I mean! Hope you have a great weekend. Just arrived in southern Utah last night, doing our 14-mile hike at Zion National Park tomorrow! Cool 66 degrees here this morning.

  4. Even though it’s unlikely to attract enthusiasts like you & I, this premise is likely useful for all of those people out there that find car buying a hassle. I love the idea. Hope your week is going well.

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