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Poll: Is the future of car ownership subscription based?

02/09/2019
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Subscription-based models are already common for mobile phone packages, TV channels and meal kits, but could the automotive industry go the same way?

We want to know what you think. Are vehicle subscription services likely to stick around, or will traditional car ownership prevail? Have your say in our poll:

In just the last few years a huge range of vehicle subscription services have launched from dealers, tech startups and car manufacturers, with varying offers aimed at offering customers greater flexibility while eliminating traditional ownership, loans and payment plans. 

San Francisco based startup Less is just one company offering subscription services with a range of new cars
(Image via Less)

In simple terms, the service allows a “temporary ownership” that customers pay for with a flat fee on a monthly basis, with the car being returned once you end the contract. The services can cover everything including warranty, insurance, maintenance, delivery and registration, allowing customers to benefit from a simplified process that removes complicated ownership/rental/lease processes.

Volvo were one of the first to launch their own subscription service, with Care by Volvo promising to deliver you a brand new Volvo for a fixed period of two-to-three years with a deposit-free, monthly subscription that includes regular service and maintenance costs (including pick up and delivery), comprehensive insurance and breakdown cover.

Care by Volvo allows you to subscribe to a new Volvo model for a 2-3 year fixed period with a flat monthly fee
(Image via Volvo)

Other manufacturers have launched their own variations, including Canvas by Ford, Book by Cadillac, Access by BMW, CarpeDrive by JLR and Mercedes-Benz Flexperience. There are also start-ups like Flexdrive, Less and Dover offering separate deals that can include other benefits such as letting you switch cars month-to-month.

For the nominal price of $2,100 a month you can subscribe to Porsche Passport, which offers “unlimited flips between models”, in case you feel like rolling into work in a different luxury car each morning. 

Always wanted to own a Porsche? In the US and Canada you can now order one online and switch the models when you like for a monthly fee starting at $2100
(Image via Porsche)

Expect these services to grow as well. It’s thought that future offerings - as well as including aspects like maintenance and insurance in a single, flat fee - will come to encompass congestion fees, parking and more of the additional costs of vehicle ownership.

According to Forbes, over 16 million new cars in the US and Europe could be part of subscription services by 2025 - accounting for nearly 10% of all new vehicle sales. A YouGov/Zoura survey showed that 24% of British drivers would be more likely to subscribe to a car subscription service than buy a new car within the next year - with millenials representing the customer segment most likely to be on board with the idea.

Subscription services are growing in popularity, but will they become the dominant form of car ownership?
(Image via Forbes)

But that still leaves many wary about the idea with other options - such as personal contract hire and purchase - already available to those who want to actually own a car while spreading the costs.

Subscriptions are also seen by many as being a more expensive option in the long run, despite the benefits of including all aspects of car ownership in one monthly fee. However as the industry grows, it’s almost certain that cheaper variations will arise in the future.

And of course there are questions of the necessity of any form of car ownership at all in the future, with growing urbanisation making it more beneficial to rely on improved public transport, micro-mobility and services like Uber and Lyft; improved automation leading to the potential for self-driving cars; and the growing concern about personal vehicles’ effect on the environment.

Have your say

What do you think about vehicle subscription models? Would you sign up to one? Would you prefer to see other options beyond personal vehicle ownership? Or would you prefer to purchase and possess your own car the traditional way?

Have your say on the future of the subscription model in the poll above, or in the comments below. The results and best comments will be published on Monday 9th September, and featured in next week’s EngineeringPro newsletter

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Poll: Is the future of car ownership subscription based? - Time to read 4 min
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