By on April 16, 2018

2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 Group - Image: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz has announced it will be testing a new vehicle subscription service for customers in the United States this summer. The practice is becoming increasingly popular with automakers, especially luxury brands. General Motors expanded it’s Book by Cadillac service late last year, Porsche has Passport, and Ford has its Canvas program. Even BMW offered a public aside during the 2018 Detroit Auto Show that expressed its intentions to test the subscription model for itself.

The recipe is simple. A customer pays a flat monthly rate and an automaker opens up access to its fleet. For Mercedes, what you can actually drive depends on how much you spend though. The brand says it’s system will be tiered, with higher-end vehicles being available at a more princely premium. If you want AMG models or access to the S-Class, you’ll have to pay more than someone who is happy bouncing between the GLA and CLA. 

Like all subscription services, mileage is unlimited and insurance is included. Maintenance and roadside assistance are also included as part of the package. Mercedes also noted that a concierge staff will be on hand to ensure vehicle deliveries are “consistent with the details and preferences in the customer’s profile.” But all the details have yet to be worked out.

Presumably, the service will function similarly to Book by Cadillac — which allows customers to schedule appointments where someone can hand over a new car in person at a location of their choosing. Members of the program are also allowed to swap vehicles up to 18 times annually. However, Cadillac instituted a driving cap of 2,000 miles per month late last year.

Mercedes doesn’t currently have a limit placed upon the odometer but made no mention of how many times customers will be able to exchange models. There has also been no talk of money. Cadillac’s Book service starts at $1,500 per month and Porsche Passport uses a tiered system that maxes out at $3,000 per month. Depending on how Mercedes breaks up its fleet, its own leveled system could easily span the $1,700-$3,000 pricing gamut.

Details are set to emerge as the program launch date draws nearer. What we know for sure is that the company is calling its service the Mercedes-Benz Collection and it drops in June for the good people of Nashville, TN, and Philadelphia, PA. Interestingly, BMW also mentioned it would be launching its subscription program in Nashville this year. It looks like the two rivals will not only be able to test their new services on the public but also against each other.

[Image: Mercedes-Benz]

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14 Comments on “The New Luxury Bandwagon: Mercedes-Benz Launches Subscription Service...”


  • avatar
    DearS

    My budget says I can pay up to $300 per month everything but gas included. Waiting for an automaker to reply, if not my used cars are costing me $300 per month with gas, depreciation, repairs, and insurance included.

    • 0 avatar
      ScarecrowRepair

      Do subscription services include gas? You might have to revise your expectations if not.

    • 0 avatar
      pinkslip

      Subscriptions are not usually meant to be more affordable, they are meant to provide flexibility/options/added content. Buying a single album, for example, would cost less than subscribing to a music service like Spotify or Pandora every month. But with the subscription, you get access to much more content. Running with this analogy, once a year or three, you buy your CDs used at garage sales or Rasputin. You aren’t the demographic Spotify has in mind when they charged $10/mo.

      I assume a car subscription works out to be more expensive than a lease on a vehicle of similar price-range, because the people who want to subscribe are doing so for the ability to drive a different car sooner than 24-29 months, and there is no negotiating the terms (cap cost, down payment, mileage, duration, equipment, etc.).

    • 0 avatar
      PwrdbyM

      Pretty confident you’re not their target customer.

  • avatar
    3CatGo

    We owned our 2012 Sportwagen TDI from new for 66 months and 143,726 miles. The total money we spent on the car was $51,418. This is principle, interest, taxes, registration fees, gas, maintenance, insurance, repairs, every dime we ever spent on that car. Sold it back in February for $17,536. Net cost to operate was $33,882, or $513/month, or 23.6 cents/mile.

    I was pretty shocked at the end result, especially as the only “repair” required was $100 to fix a turbo hose. Everything else was scheduled maintenance. Cars are a lot more expensive to maintain than people think – here was a car that sold for less than the average transaction price ($27,700 in 2012), got outstanding mileage, had essentially zero unscheduled repairs, had drivers with perfect insurance and credit ratings in a low-cost insurance state (PA, not Philly), never needed new brakes (just fluid), and still cost over $500/month to own. And the buyback was about $5,000 more than market, so tack on another $75/month, bringing the cost closer to $600/month (27.0 cents/mile)

    Had we owned it longer that value would have gone down a bit as we amortized the principle longer, but it was due for tires and front brakes and inspection, so the time was right to sell.

    So, it seems Subscription services could make some sense when you really run the numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      pinkslip

      I’m guessing about $100-150/mo of that was fuel, though. And while I am not well versed on these new car subscription models, I would guess that the included insurance is only for one driver, with a second driver being an additional cost.

      Still, depending on the subscription costs/terms, it could be compelling to pay a little more per month if it is mostly offset by zero maintenance costs.

      • 0 avatar
        3CatGo

        From my math, about $190 of my $600 is fuel. And our insurance was for myself & my wife. I suppose if the Subscription finds a market, it will take off. My thoughts are that before looking at the math, I would have never guessed my trouble-free road trip king was costing me $600. People might compare that to a monthly $300 lease (or even payment), and the marketing will need to overcome that somehow.

  • avatar
    random1

    Without details, it’s anyone’s guess how good/bad this is. Using the E-class for reference, quick googling shows something like 800/mo lease for 12/36. If somewhere near 1500 got you a fully optioned E-class + insurance 2k mi/mo, and all maintenance covered, that’s not crazy. I won’t do it, but it’s not crazy. You’re going to be in nearly new cars, a few different models, all the time. If you really value having new and like-new cars, it might make sense. With more and more manufacturers getting in the game, these prices should get a little better as well. I assume some of this cost is towards constantly detailing the returns, you have to deliver like-new, pristine vehicles for this kind of money.

  • avatar
    TW5

    This is the correct way to automobile. Insurance through the manufacturer or negotiated via the manufacturers because virtually all of the service knowledge and repair parts come from the manufacturers. If fuel is included as part of the service, drivers will be motivated to pick fuel efficient vehicles.

    Mon-Fri drive a Prius. Get a Sequoia for family weekend driving in town. Get a white work-spec Tundra if you need to do some work. Get an Avalon if you’re taking a family cross country tour.

    Manufacturing variation will be simplified. Production glut will be immense and the manufacturers will practically give away access to 8-10 year old vehicles as a means of building rapport with future customers.

    However, if there is one thing we can count on in this world, the manufacturers will find a way to screw it up. Good news is you can build your own fleet, if you have the space.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      TW5

      Toyota vs. Chevy
      Most fuel efficient vehicle
      Bolt
      Best big SUV
      Tahoe or Suburban
      Best Pickup
      Silverado
      Best offroad
      Colorado ZR2
      Best Work Van
      Express
      Best Large car
      Impala
      Best Sports car
      Corvette
      Best in case of Emergency
      OnStar
      Best Navigation system
      Chevy
      Best sound system
      Chevy
      Best Connectivity
      Chevy

      No one would ever subscribe to Toyota.

  • avatar
    W210Driver

    Interesting how process of purchasing and owning cars has evolved over the last decades. From buying to leasing to subscribing.

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    Because leasing a new “luxury” car every 36 months doesn’t scream “I’m a brand snob that makes bad financial decisions” loud enough.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    $18,000 a year for Johann’s wares?

    $375/week, insurance or no…

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