Chinese Automaker Geely is Delivering Keys by Drone for New Vehicle Purchases

Chinese Automaker Geely is Delivering Keys by Drone for New Vehicle Purchases

Author: Eric Walz   

The coronavirus crisis has temporarily altered retail and food delivery, with many businesses implementing "contactless" transactions, such as food deliveries being left on doorsteps instead of being handed off directly to the customer, to help prevent the spread of the virus. 

Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd (Geely) however, has come up with a novel way to help customers take delivery on their new cars without having to interact with dealership employees. The automaker announced its is using drones to deliver the keys to customers after they order their new vehicles online.

The program was launched on February 10, while the Wuhan region of China was under a strict government ordered lock down to control the spread of the coronavirus. Around 40 million people were forced to stay indoors during the lockdown. The Wuhan region in China was where the world's first coronavirus cases appeared in January. It's also home to many of China's auto manufacturing facilities.

Geely Auto, which is the parent company of Swedish automaker Volvo, launched a new online vehicle sales system that allows consumers to order their cars entirely online, including selecting vehicle options, choosing various financing and insurance options, as well as the option of "contactless" home delivery.

The new system is using drones in select locations to deliver new car keys to consumers. The drones can leave the keys on a customer's doorstep or an outdoor balcony,  if they live in a highrise or apartment building. The delivery of the keys by drone allows for a complete contactless solution.

Geely said the new delivery option has been successful so far. Since the platform was launched in February, over 10,000 consumers have ordered and paid for vehicles on Geely's online mall with a further 110,000 users registering their interest to buy a Geely vehicle in the short term.

All confirmed orders and confirmed leads are sent to local dealers, who then process orders and begin the home delivery process.

New Vehicles Are Being Disinfected Before Delivery

Geely Auto vehicles are thoroughly disinfected by the dealership including through ionization prior to delivery in order to ensure customers enjoy a safe and healthy purchase experience when they come to drive away their new vehicle. 

"Thorough disinfection and even ionization, Geely is going above and beyond in ensuring our customers have a safe and healthy purchase experience. We're taking contactless purchasing to the next level with drone key deliveries," the company wrote in a Twitter post.

Geely has also set aside a 370 million RMB (US$52.2 million) fund that will focus on the development of cleaner, healthier vehicles, including the use of antimicrobial cabin air filters for the vehicle's interior. The first mass produced vehicle equipped with anti-bacterial filters was the Geely ICON SUV, which launched in China last month.

Victor Yang, Vice President of Geely Auto Sales Company commented: "Geely Auto's constant change to market requirements and consumer concerns is the driving force behind Geely's continued success in the Chinese market."

The drone key deliveries by Geely is one way Chinese automakers are working to boost sales amid China's cooling auto market that's been further impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the China Passenger Car Association, new car sales in China plummeted 80% year over year in February 2020, which was the biggest monthly drop in history. The coronavirus outbreak has kept customers away from auto dealer showrooms this year.

In September 2019, Geely announced it led a $55 million investment in aviation startup Volocopter GmBH, a Germany-based flying taxi and drone startup. As part of the investment, Geely will also enter into a joint venture with Volocopter to bring flying cars to China. 

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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