QOTD: Forget Newsletters - Which Automaker Would You Subscribe To?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd forget newsletters which automaker would you subscribe to

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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2 of 33 comments
  • Lockstops Lockstops on Aug 03, 2018

    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.

  • Greg Greg on Aug 03, 2018

    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?

  • MaintenanceCosts All I want is one more cylinder. One more cylinder and I would happily pay the diesel fraud company almost whatever they wanted for it.
  • SPPPP US like Citroen - nothing moves.
  • Jeff S Corey--Thanks again for this serious and despite the lack of comments this is an excellent series. Powell Crosley does not get enough recognition and is largely forgotten even in his hometown of Cincinnati although the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Airport has 2 Crosley cars on display. Crosley revolutionized radios by making an affordable radio that the masses could afford similar to what Henry Ford did with the Model T. Both Crosley and Ford did not invent the radio and the car but they made them widespread by making them affordable. I did not know about the Icyball but I did know about Crosley refrigerators, airplanes, cars, and radios.
  • Oberkanone C5 Aircross is the only vehicle that would have any appeal in North America. Can't see it doing well with Citroen badge, maybe a chance with Chrysler badge.
  • Oberkanone 1921 thru 1936 are the best