By on August 3, 2018

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody

Newsletters, podcasts, streaming music services — our quest for consumption and thirst for variety knows no bounds. But lately, automakers have taken to experimenting with the same business model. A range of cars, plus insurance coverage, for a fixed monthly price.

Sounds intriguing, if the price is right.

Cadillac’s doing it. Bimmer, too. And so is Porsche. Volvo has such a service, but it only nets you a single compact crossover. Mercedes-Benz recently made its own foray into the subscription arena, offering a bevy of German luxury vehicles for just over a grand per month.

What would it take to lure you aboard the subscription bandwagon?

Maybe it isn’t the business model or the price — it’s the automaker. Cadillacs and Teutonic barges from east of the Rhine are nice, but perhaps not your cup of automotive tea. No, you’re thinking of something more practical, something with the widest variety of roadgoing appliances.

It’s hard not to think of an OEM-wide subscription service offered by Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, or Ford. Swapping back and forth between loaded luxo pickups and muscle cars, with SUVs rounding out the fare, seems like a great idea for the consumer, but maybe not for the company. OEMs like racking up sales of high-margin vehicles. And neither Ford nor Chevrolet nor Ram have much trouble offloading full-size pickups.

To tempt the American consumer, OEMs would need to think long and hard about that subscription price. Book by Cadillac is still unprofitable. BMW’s subscription service just cut back its entry price. Everyone’s starting out small and making baby steps towards a wider roll-out, fearful of losing money and looking like a failure.

Still, we can be assured of more subscription services popping up in the future. Your task today is to describe the automotive subscription service you’d like to see, then come up with the fair and reasonable price you’d be willing to pay.

Have at it.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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33 Comments on “QOTD: Forget Newsletters – Which Automaker Would You Subscribe to?...”


  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    Give me a subscription service where I can commute in a Bolt, do weekend runs in a Stingray and take a Traverse on a family road trip, all while occupying only one spot in my garage.

    GM: Take my money, please.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Dont forget, a Silverado long bed would be helpful every now and again as well.

      To your point, i was thinking the same thing whether it is all GM or not. I would require access to the entire spectrum of automotive offerings before signing up for a subscription service.

      I will concede the ‘super car’ niche need not be included, at the very least a C7 or equivalent, though i am not sure what that would be.

  • avatar
    Urlik

    Audi for sure, especially if RS anything is included. I suppose I’d pick someone different if I gave a crap about ever driving a pickup.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    A FCA subscription service might be problematic. I know what I would do with a manual Hellcat and it wouldn’t necessarily be good for the car. The wear and tear would be brutal for muscle cars. What about Mustangs? The streets wouldn’t be safe for phone poles and fire hydrants.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I have a feeling that Hellcats (or any muscle cars) would either be excluded from the subscription service, or at a much higher rate.

      OTOH, what prevents someone from hooning a BMW 7 series, for example? I’ve obviously not seriously looked into the subscription concept, but I have to imagine that there are wear and tear limits, like there are on regular leases.

    • 0 avatar
      MoparRocker74

      See my post below. HC is what you buy for yourself. Having access to a sensible boring vehicle when you need it but don’t want to actually own would make fun cars more accessible to more people. Having to commit to boring and practical would SUUUUUCCCKKKK.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I haven’t looked up any of the prices to lease these cars, so I don’t know how realistic this is, but:

    I’d pay $1000/month ($1200 or so if maintenance, door to door drop off/pickup, and especially insurance is included) to have a Ford subscription to everything except the GT. If I could trade at will between a Raptor, a GT350, a Fiesta ST, an Expedition Platinum, etc, I’d see real value in that.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’d be happy with FCA – “V8 only” program.

    You bring me a new car every 3 months but V8 only – HEMI Durango/Challenger/Charger/RAM crew cab/300C etc.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I wonder how these subscription services work under CAFE if you have a vehicle list that includes a 330e and M2 or Pacifia Hybrid and Durango RT.

    • 0 avatar
      MoparRocker74

      Problem is all of those would be keepers. Its the vanilla minivan, CUV, or midsize sedan that Id want to show up, get my use out of when the need arises and then kick it down the road. Let the Hemi beast sit safely in the garage while soaking the disposable cuv in winter salt brine, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Car ownership is easily the least favorite part of the car experience for me. I like looking at nice cars… which I can do by having something in my driveway, or going to car shows, or browsing the internet. Not to mention the headaches of buying/selling/eating depreciation.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I would sign up for a BMW subscription if the monthly price was the equivalent of a 320i or X1 lease rate plus insurance, but allowed me to drive an M2, M4, X5M, John Cooper Works Mini, or RR Phantom whenever I needed one.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    I like this plan because I could have a safe, AWD, non-beater for the winter months and and engaging fun to drive car for the rest of the year for a single car payment.

    I expect they would have a $1000 exchange fee or up the minimum time of possession to 12 months.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    This is the future. Selling experience/service instead of things. Jet engines are now sold by the hour flown, not the engine itself. Maintenance/repairs are taken care of by the manufacturer. Compliments the move away from traditional employment towards a gig economy.

    I love the idea of an all you can eat buffet for cars. But like all you can eat buffets, there will always be an extra charge for premium items. You get the Fusion and Focus included in the base package at Ford, but if you want a Mustang, it’s an extra $175/mo.

    This model is a lot more efficient as well. As a customer, all I pay for is the driving service provided and never have to worry about maintenance or repairs or depreciation or any of it. Theoretically I’d never step foot in a dealership again after the initial contract is signed. And of course that extra level of convenience will come at a price, but one I’d gladly pay.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    The math does not work at $300 a month, as insurance and maintenance are included. I would be quite surprised if any dealer group or manufacturer could make a subscription service profitable for less than $1k a month.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I spoke on this in the BMW subscription article… yesterday? But I would love some kind of tiered time based program. Coming back to BMW, you’d have 3 or so plans with varying access to different price levels. So say the 3 levels are <$50K, <$75K, <$100K with plans at $500/$750/$1000/mo (you are on your own with insurance). $500 plan would give you maybe 1 month of access to the $100K level, 2 months to the $75K, 9 to the rest. $750 level would get you 4 months to $100K level, 8 months to the rest. Etc.

    I would definitely love something like this. I don't want or need a 7 series year round, but I'd definitely be down to check one out for a month or two. "Slumming it" in a 330e year round to have short term access to an M3 or X6M seems like a fair trade. Every car gets old so being able to get something different on a regular basis sounds very appealing.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I really like this. I’d be all over this actually. I’d even be OK to cover insurance at this price point. I’ve been averaging a different car every 18 months or so as is so this would definitely be to my liking.

    Only place I could see this being problematic is maintenance. They’d have to limit this to Japanese cars or essentially build a warranty program in. Would be tricky factoring in damages from negligence (and defining negligence as well). Lot of logistic hurdles.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      It does seem like insurance should be a separate item since it would vary so much from driver to driver. It would still probably have to be handled through the dealer, though, to make sure that the coverage was correct and in place.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Taken directly from Germaincars.com

      How Drive Germain works:

      Members sign up by downloading the Drive Germain app.
      Every Drive Germain subscription includes rights to a vehicle, insurance, maintenance, roadside assistance, unlimited mileage, and unlimited flips.
      Membership requires a one-time activation fee of $500, and the membership is month-to-month with only a 30 day notice to cancel.
      Germain Concierge will deliver the vehicle right to member’s home, office or requested location.
      Drive Germain is set to launch November 13th, 2017, but interested subscribers can enroll now to begin the application process.

      Premier for $1,000 per month includes: Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C Class, Lexus ES & IS, BMW X3, Audi Q3, Lexus RX350, Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra, and Honda Odyssey.

      Elite for $1,400 per month include: Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E Class, Lexus GS350, Infiniti Q70, Porsche Macan, BMW X5, Audi Q7, Lexus GX450, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Cadillac ATS-V Coupe, and BMW M2 Coupe. This option is coming Spring 2018.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        Hm. I like adding in a pickup, a minivan and an SUV, but I’m not sure what good having five different entry-lux sedans is supposed to do. Couldn’t they have swapped one of them out for a Miata?

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    There’s a local Hyundai dealer that has a program that allows you to swap your car or SUV for a pickup truck on their lot when you need one. No charge.

    I think that’s all I would need.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    Subscribe to the Hellcat? No. That’s the one you buy…or any variant of the LX cars, really. Letting any jackass go and rag out these cars because not my car is a suicide mission.

    Here’s how this would make sense:

    I own a Challenger R/T. That’s the car I actually WANT to own, based on style, performance and how it fits into my life 90% of the time. The world would be my oyster if I could also have a 2 door Wrangler and a single cab shortbed Ram. Id want to OWN any or all of those. I’m a customizer so in each case I have a laundry list of performance mods, exhaust uncorking, suspension upgrades, wheels/tires and some cosmetic personalization that I would have to do. All of those are pretty focused and less practical/versatile versions of their platforms but theyre dialed in for my tastes. All well and good..

    But sometimes you want to go camping, or on a roadtrip with friends or haul a ton of rock, or move cross country or whatever. For the guy who wants a fun and cool looking car most of the time, but can use something more practical, FCA would do well to have a program in place to address this. If a Challenger is your only vehicle and you own a house…how awesome would it be to be able to sign up for a program that undercuts the rental companies when you need a crewcab Ram for a run to Home Depot? Or a camping trip 4 hours away with 3 buddies? Or it snowed/iced and a Cherokee is perfect for getting around for a few days til it clears? Or your parents are in town for a few days and you want to cart them around in relative comfort…a 300 would be nice. That might work for a business lunch with a work client where an straight piped Hemi Challenger isn’t exactly the best fit.

    Worked out correctly, it COULD be worth it. But for me, an ongoing rent to own the flavor of the week…nah.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    This whole concept is unacceptable to me. Smells like socialism. A car company gives toy $n per month including insurance based on collective insurance cost. The only thing left – remove any monetary transactions and you’ve got yourself a communism.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      I have the same feeling: these systems will be very costly to set up and have to be subsidised by profits from other operations, then in the end all these systems will collapse because no-one takes care of the property they don’t own. Only socialist extremist governments can force this upon us in a way that car ownership will not be the winning choice in the end (it’ll still be the best choice but just won’t be allowed anymore so we’re all screwed).

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      How on Google Earth is a voluntary subscription program by private car companies to willing customers socialism? I feel like you have no idea what the word means.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        sportyaccordy,

        how did voluntary subscription program by private insurance companies to willing customers became abusive and intrusive government program called obamacare?

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      “- remove any monetary transactions”…If the government ever does away with cash, watch out because it’s about to get ugly.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    It seems everyone wants to swap out they car at will, what happens when everyone wants 4wd in the winter when a big snow storm is coming , or a pickup or mini van when you gotta move the kids into the collage dorm, I doubt this would work, they would have to include ins , only way to cover their but and your ins rates would be all over the place from a 3 series to a M5 for example. I kinda see the program a 3 year FCA lease w ins included say 850 a month and you can exchange your vehicle say once a year. It would ruin the CPO use car because a ton of folks would beat the crap out of the cars, who decides when new tires go on? I would not go w any of these deals because I drive to much and the math does not work for me. But then again I do not see how leasing works for a large amount of people so what do I know.

    Maybe Hertz could do something like this much easier than FCA et al

    I worked w a young guy in Canada who rented a car for a month at a time but he had a car allowance and if he owned a car his insurance would have been sky high because of speeding tickets.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      That’ll be the ‘Mad Max’ subscription service: every season the game is on for the vehicles that everyone wants but only some can have. In the end everyone is out of money and everyone just gets a 1973 Falcon XB GT Coupe before all factories are shut down.

  • avatar
    Lockstops

    I’d like a Ferrari subscription service: 10 months of the year I’d have a Fiat 595 Tributo Ferrari and a Ferrari cap, jacket, pen and some stickers. And then for 2 months I’d have a 488 GTB.

    If it wasn’t owned by the antichrist VW Group, I’d maybe also like to subscribe to the Porsche package: one month I could drive a 911, the next month I could have a nice kitchen, then the next month I could have an apartment in Miami and a pen, sunglasses, an umbrella and golf set.

  • avatar
    Greg

    Subscriptions work well with one-off or intangible items like the three examples at the start of the article. Not so sure how well it would work with a pool of high-maintenance durable goods like cars. I would hazard a guess that commenters on TTAC take better care of cars than most people. It’s not about hooning a hellcat as much as hoping the previous subscriber knew to drive with the parking brake off.
    I just completed an extended rental period with a crowd-sourced internet car rental service. Not exactly a subscription plan, but I had a few weeks with a premium car that was not a typical car rental option. Cosmetically, the car was fine, but a lot of deferred maintenance started to reveal itself. The car had over 50k miles, which made me reconsider that I’ve never had a national chain car rental with over 10k on the clock. Anyone know at what mileage rental agencies pull cars out of circulation?
    The car subscription model sounds like a loser for manufacturers. If you take traditional owners out of the equation, who pays for maintenance?

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