Today in this digital age, we shop for clothes, book cabs, buy groceries, and even hire on demand home services using apps. Similarly, the automotive industry developed car subscription services that can be accessed via smartphones. Consumers can now subscribe for cars as easily as subscribing for phones plans, skincare products, and footwear.
What is a Car Subscription?
It does not always make a lot of financial sense to buy a car, and some would rather enjoy the convenience and freedom of short-term “ownership.” Automakers now offer car subscription apps where people can rent vehicles on demand for as short as a month, or up to two years.
Car subscriptions don’t even require you to visit a dealership. You simply sign up through their apps or websites, choose a plan, and have the car delivered to you, sometimes in as fast as 24 hours.
Pros and Cons
These programs empower people to have minimal commitment for something that typically requires long-term obligations. There are no overhead costs and complex transactions. And you don’t even have to worry about eventually selling your car.
Car companies provide access to their model lineup, insurance, maintenance, and roadside assistance. Some car subscription providers let you switch vehicles multiple times according to your plan. You can drive a sedan during the weekdays, and exchange it for an SUV for the weekend.
But while offering convenience, there are a few setbacks. One, they can be costly depending on the car subscription. Two, car companies can charge extra fees for wear and tear, and even for smoking, or transporting pets in the vehicles. Three, the car subscription providers may track the car at all times.
A Wealth of Car Subscription Services
BMW is running a pilot program called Access by BMW. At $2,000 a month, BMW gives you access to vehicles like the 4-Series, 5-Series, X5, and M2. At the $3,700 car subscription tier you can drive any of their convertibles M4, M5, M6, X5M, and X6M.
Book by Cadillac is one of the first car subscription services. It was initially available only in New York City, and will soon be available in Los Angeles and Dallas. It requires a $500 enrollment fee and a $1,800 monthly fee, but lets you swap cars up to 18 times a year. Your spouse has entitlement to drive the ordered vehicle as well.
Care by Volvo is the only vehicle subscription service that’s available nationwide, and it promises to include all models to the program. Plans start for as low as $600 per month with a $500 deposit which also applies to the first month’s fees. Volvo is lenient in its terms as it allows for $1,000 worth of vehicle damage and excess mileage. Unlike some of the more expensive programs, Volvo only allows car swaps every 12 months.
Mercedez-Benz has its Mercedes-Benz Collection, with plans starting at $1,595 per month. The Premier tier costs $2,995 which allows its subscribers to drive a G550 SUV or an SL550 roadster. Subscribers can also switch to different cars with minimal notice.
Porsche’s Passport is perhaps the most expensive service. Its first tier costs $2,000 per month, and has access to Macans, Boxters, Caymans, and Cayennes. Drivers can get the 911 or the Panamera for the $3,000 monthly Accelerate plan. Unfortunately, the program does not include the GT3 RS.
There are other apps out there that are inclusive in terms of budget, models, and subscription lengths. These third-party services are generally cheaper as they include older and cheaper models. Canvas lets users pick the duration of their subscription that become cheaper the longer the subscription. Subscribers can pick from cars ranging from a Ford Fiesta at $329 to a Mustang at $629 per month.
Flexdrive does a weekly payment arrangement for an inclusive market. A Honda Accord can cost only $219 per week. However, it is only currently available in Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Texas.
Less works more like a traditional lease. It only has three-year contracts with an annual membership of $399, but has a nice selection of luxury cars. This is a viable option for those who are more comfortable with extended commitments.
Borrow offers electric cars. It functions like a rental car service with three-, six-, or nine-month contracts starting at $399. Its Premium tier has a BMW i3 and a Volkswagen eGolf for at least $524, and its Platinum tier offers a Tesla Model S, but is not available to all subscribers. It is currently only available in Los Angeles.
Fair isn’t locked into set lengths for their contracts and lets customers upgrade or return vehicles. Everything is done through the app, including scanning the driver’s license, payments, other vehicle documents, and finding insurance.
People who are curious about vehicle subscriptions will be happy to learn that there are numerous options to explore. It’s a matter of selecting the right program that fits their lifestyle, and they can indulge in the benefits of having a car without the cumbersome commitments.