Last week, Hyundai announced a new vehicle subscription service titled Evolve+ at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show.
The brand revealed that customers would now be able to drive select vehicles for a monthly fee, similar to a lease or rental, but with no minimum term like the former and less cost than the latter. Only two vehicles are available on the platform; the IONIQ 5, for $899 a month, and the Kona Electric, for $699 a month. Maintenance, insurance and roadside assistance are included with subscriptions for either vehicle. Although they can signup through the Evolve+ app, subscribers will still need to pick the cars up from participating dealers in one of the six states where the program is available.
Vehicle subscription services have a troubled history in the automotive industry. A similar program by Volvo was suspended in California for breaking laws designed to protect franchised dealerships from automaker competition (although it has since been allowed to return after revision). However, given that Hyundai’s dealers are handling distribution and are even allowed to set different monthly rates than the $699 and $899 numbers above, it seems the Evolve+ system will skirt similar litigation, at least for now. Gary Rome, President of Gary Rome Auto Group, and a TIME Magazine dealer of the year, also offered his support for the program, noting that it offered drivers “the opportunity to try an electric vehicle and see if it fits their lifestyle…”
Given the declining attractiveness of leases, jaw dropping EV prices and rising monthly auto loan payments, the need for an alternative path to ownership is definitely high. That being said, customers who can afford the high subscription fee for the Evolve+ platform may also be the ones least affected by the aforementioned challenges. Although some dealers are charging below Hyundai’s recommended pricing, it remains to be seen whether the service will gain traction or if drivers would rather opt for a more typical approach.
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