By on July 31, 2018

BMW is trimming some of the fat off its car subscription program after the media collectively realized that paying twice what you would on an average lease didn’t constitute a good deal. Frankly, most car subscription services that exist right now are an incredibly poor value. Bavarian Motor Works was the rule, not the exception.

However, most of these programs are in their infancy and cater to wealthier individuals who get a kick out pestering automakers to submit to their whims by occasionally delivering a new vehicle. It was presumed that those lofty fees would come down as competition ramped up and mainstream automakers entered the fray. That, along with some public criticism of the subscription model, seems to be helping push automakers away from astronomical prices.

That’s not to say the German manufacturer is suddenly offering a bargain alternative to leasing. But if you love the idea of having a car for every occasion and don’t want to deal with insurance agents, Access by BMW has become more affordable. 

According to Automotive News, BMW has reduce the price of both of its existing packages by a significant amount. The $2,000 per month package, which yielded customers models like the X5 M and M2 Competition, now runs $1,399 per month. Meanwhile, the $3,700 top-tier plan that could have you swapping between several six-figure models is now $2,699 each month.

There’s also a new basic plan that gets you into just about every BMW with a starting MSRP under $50,000 for just $1,099 — which is priced suspiciously close to the Mercedes-Benz Collection plan’s opening bid.

Again, these aren’t the best deals we’ve ever heard of, but insurance and maintenance are included. The company will also let you hop between vehicles. For example — if you’re a member of the cheapest plan and spend most of your time in an M240i convertible, but need something bigger to take the whole family out of town for a week, you can swap into an X3 without much trouble. Want to see how you like a pint-sized electric? Ditch the SUV and hop into an i3.

The pricing still isn’t low enough for us to endorse any of these programs as financially sound. But, if you absolutely love the idea of car swapping and have some money to burn, we suppose there is little harm in jumping in and seeing how you like it — other than normalizing the practice of factory-owned rental cars masquerading as your own personal vehicle.

[Image: BMW]

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10 Comments on “Thinking of Getting a BMW Subscription? Expect to Mercifully Pay Less...”

  • avatar

    I’m ready for the hate, but I don’t think these are awful prices, nor a “poor value” for the right customer.

    No, they aren’t appropriate for recent college grads, nor even the upper middle class. But you know what? NO luxury-ish car is appropriate for those demographics. They should be buying a Camry or, if they want sporty, an Ecoboost Mustang.

    For a successful doctor or lawyer with a 6-figure income that starts with at least a 2, these plans seem like a fine choice. The $1099 plan is more like $1K when you factor in the insurance. $600+ probably gets you a lease on these vehicles, so you’re paying a premium for the privilege of swapping out, but you’re getting something potentially valuable in return.

    • 0 avatar

      For $1099 you get to choose from a selection of under $50k BMWs. So basically you can swap between 2 series and 3 series, including X2 and X3. So what’s the real variety or advantage in that? How often would you really swap out? Once in a while if you want a convertible instead of a crossover? That’s what daily rentals are for.

      • 0 avatar

        I could see it. My daily commute is me and me alone, and I’d certainly enjoy that drive in an M240i convertible, but on weekends or when going on longer trips I’d want to swap it for an X3.

        The pricing isn’t completely terrible, but you sure as heck are paying for the privilege. My car loan is about $900 a month for 60 months, and for that plus a hundred bucks or so for insurance I get to drive a currently-new loaded Alfa Romeo Giulia. So for a hundred bucks a month more, I could drive a range of cars worth about $5-10k less than mine and have (realistically) $20k less in equity after five years. That means you’re over-paying by 30-40% for the flexibility and continually new cars.

        Might be worth it for the right person in the right situation.

        • 0 avatar

          It makes a lot of sense in places where insurance is really expensive – that $100/mo might easily be $2-300.

          The best deal of these plans seems to be Volvo’s version. No swapping out there though, it’s more of an all-inclusive lease.

          How are you liking the Giulia? That is a car I would have in my garage if I could get one with a stick. I’ll compromise on no hatch, but not on the stickshift.

          • 0 avatar

            It has its flaws – I’d prefer an I6 to a 2.0T 4-banger, even if this one is much more powerful than I need; the infotainment is a bit of a mess; and it had to spend a weekend in the shop at 1600 miles, though it’s been fine since – but it has better road feel than anything I’ve driven this century (and I test drove all its competitors) it’s fun as hell. It literally puts a giant dumb grin on my face every time I get into it.

        • 0 avatar

          I suppose this is the opposite of what most people would want, but I think in aggregate these programs would have a demand problem. Demand for crossovers will go up as the weather gets cold and vice versa.

          The weird thing to me here is the inclusion of insurance. I suppose somewhere like NYC where that $1K might be someone’s monthly premium that is the steal of the century. But down here in the South I could probably get into a $50K BMW lease for half of what they’re asking depending on the model, including insurance (which would be like $200/mo tops). Anyone with a basic calculator will see that and I imagine these kinds of programs becoming money losers.

          A more interesting program would be a subscription that allowed use of all vehicles, but higher tiered ones for a shorter time for lower subscriptions. So someone at the base plan could do the $50K models all they wanted, but the ~$80K models for maybe 3 months out of the year, and then the top models for 1 month a year. Then each higher plan would get more time in the higher tiers. The marketeers would have a hell of a time explaining it but I’m sure they could figure it out. And that would be a lot more intriguing.

      • 0 avatar

        covers insurance though, as well. Maintenance probably isn’t as big a deal for most bimmer owners since that’s usually thrown in.

      • 0 avatar

        Worth noting, apparently you get 2,000 miles per month and they roll over. So 24,000 miles per year. That’s more than a lot of people will use but if you /do/ drive a lot then that could definitely be worth a big premium over lease rates, which usually provide 10,000 miles per year.

  • avatar

    “Again, these aren’t the best deals we’ve ever heard of, but insurance and maintenance are included. ”

    Why does Days of Thunder suddenly come scrolling across my consciousness?

  • avatar

    I don’t find these prices outrageous, either. No more so than BMWs in general.

    Now, make the $1099 plan $799, but stipulate at least 50% of the time in either a “stripper” 1/2 series or on a BMW bike, and we’re really talking……..

    Going off-BMW, payments on a CX-5, a Miata AND a Japanese bike probably don’t combine to much more than $1099, so you’re obviously still paying for the roundel…

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