Car Subscription Service, Is It Worth it?

Car Subscription

BMW will begin its first analysis of vehicle subscription services beginning next week. This new subscription program —called  “Access ” will use a Sonic Automotive store in Nashville as its pilot dealership starting April 2nd, 2018; however, there currently is no comment available from the BMW spokesperson informant regarding the actual location or timeline for this car subscription program to start.

What is a Car Subscription Service?

A car subscription service permits the consumers to trade in the current model vehicle they are driving for the newer, different model of the same vehicle for a slightly higher monthly charge than what they would be paying should they choose to buy or lease the vehicle.  The extra charge is a premium charge that comes with the subscription and is part of the insurance and/or maintenance service fees.

Other car dealerships such as Porsche, Cadillac, and Volvo have already introduced their own car subscription services over the past few years; as well, the car dealers for Lincoln and Mercedes Benz will also be initiating their own form of car subscription services in the coming year.

General Motors has a service called BOOK—this is a car dealership subscription service which allows consumers to pay a set amount each month ($1500) along with a one-time initiation fee of $500; this service then permits that consumer access to whatever Cadillac they prefer at any one time.

This BOOK service is comparable to the movie service known as Netflix, and allows consumers the opportunity to swap vehicles—currently, only the Escalade and CTS-V are available from Cadillac—up to eighteen times a year.  When the consumer decides which vehicle they prefer, the car is delivered through the dealerships concierge service. This service gives consumers all the advantages of leasing or buying a car without a headache or worry of maintenance or other servicing details; also, allowing the consumer to drive the vehicle with the unlimited use of mileage, with the costs of registration and car maintenance included in the payment.

BOOK is not the only car subscription service, there are also two other car subscription services—called CLUTCH and YOYO—and like any other service available.

The CLUTH service offers consumers a car subscription service which costs anywhere from $800 to $1300 per month;  just as the BOOK service offers, the consumer chooses the car they prefer, the more luxurious the car, the higher the monthly service fee.  The chosen vehicle is then delivered to the consumer by concierge service.

Even though most consumers believe these types of car subscription services are creative and serve an innovative purpose to the car buyers/leasers needs, there are pros and cons to the service.  

Some of the pros to the car subscription service include:

  • Gives consumers the opportunity of driving different vehicles at different times.  Permitting consumers vehicle usage for different reasons they may require; perhaps an SUV is needed for a camping trip, as opposed to needing a sedan for a night out.
  • The driver of the vehicle does not have the hassle of worrying about paying any insurance or registration for the vehicle of choice; the subscription price is all inclusive of these costs.
  • The car of your choice is always available at the request of the consumer; with the touch of the fingertips to the app the car is available and delivered to the consumer’s address through a concierge service.
  • The user has the ability to cancel their subscription or reinstate their subscription at any time they prefer to do so, much unlike that of any lease program, with the avoidance of any added fees.
  • Roadside assistance is also available with any vehicle subscription application purchased; this is one other headache that is avoided that comes with the ownership of a vehicle.
  • The monthly subscription fee includes all maintenance, fees, insurance, that come with the use of the vehicle.

There are not as many Cons that come with a car subscription, such as BOOK; however, like any other service, they do exist.  Some of the cons include:

  • The cost for one of these car subscription services is very costly—not everyone can afford it!
  • When a driver takes a vehicle, they must keep it throughout the contract period, until they decide to upgrade or cancel the service; the app cannot be used for a day trip and return it the next day for another model.
  • One other disadvantage for drivers in large cities is the hassle of having to find parking for the vehicle.  

An Alternative to Buying or Leasing a New Car

A car subscription is the newest alternative to buying or leasing a new car, which also gives the consumer a lot of perks, though they may be pricey, to the traditional car purchase options.

The new generation offers new options to the traditional purchase or lease of a new car.  There are drones and hoverboards and we can use our facial impressions for unlocking our cell phone devices.  So why should we be trapped in the same old patterns for buying or leasing a new vehicle?

Luckily, when it comes to driving a new vehicle, we are not trapped in the same old rut; we can sign up for a car vehicle subscription in which we pay a nominal fee each month, which gives us the opportunity to drive any vehicles of our choice within that model of vehicles listing.

The car brand of Cadillac first publicized they were doing car subscriptions in January 2017; originally this service was only available in New York City, but soon expansion went out west to Dallas, Texas and Los Angeles, California.

One can subscribe to the “BOOK” app for a nominal fee of $500—which is the enrollment fee and then it is going to cost about $1800 a month to keep the service.  When you are subscribed to the BOOK application for vehicles you are going to have the opportunity in which you can drive any vehicle that dealership makes; say you want to drive an Escalade back and forth to work during the week, but then you want to swap cars for a weekend getaway and get the CTS-V; or you and your spouse want to exchange vehicles, all this is perfectly legal with the BOOK app.

There are many vehicle manufacturers that are getting in the business of vehicle subscription services, you just have to make sure you read the fine print before signing and getting “locked in” to a contract that you really cannot afford.

Resources: Business Insider, CNET