Porsche’s app-based subscription service is creeping into to four new cities in the United States and Canada. While technically still a pilot program designed to probe the market’s willingness, the expansion would indicate it’s one the automaker has some level of faith in.
We, however, are not among the true believers. Despite the added convenience of incorporating maintenance and insurance into one’s regular car payment, subscription services have not proven themselves to be an affordable way to own a car. In fact, they’re typically the most expensive way to procure a ride. But that doesn’t guarantee they won’t eventually catch on or make nameplates like Porsche oodles of cash, especially as the brand intends on making the service more costly.
Toyota Announces 'Beloved' New Subscription Service, Annoyingly Claims Transformation Into 'Mobility Company'
Cadillac recently made the choice to suspend its vehicle subscription service, claiming the operation hit some costly roadblocks. That’s been our beef with most subscription programs as well, only on the consumer side of the coin. Customers typically end up paying significantly more for access to a fleet of vehicles that, individually, would have been much cheaper to simply buy or lease. Still, the intended draw isn’t saving money, it’s convenience — most subscription services allow customers to swap between select models on the fly, baking in both insurance and maintenance fees.
While these subscription services have been limited to premium nameplates thus far, Toyota wants to try its hand and see how things play out for a mainstream manufacturer.
Automakers are trying everything under the sun to turn a larger profit these days. Building and selling cars is no longer enough. Manufacturers now offer data plans, rental services, lifestyle products, and much more. One of the newest additions to their collective portfolio is the subscription plan — which yields customers a vehicle, insurance, maintenance, and other perks for a monthly fee.
However, as the concept is preparing to enter the mainstream market, the value of such programs have been called into question. While subscription services look like one-stop shopping, often providing users with the ability to swap models throughout the year, their cost effectiveness comes into doubt when one examines the bottom line. We’ve been skeptical for a while but Edmunds recently crunched the numbers to find out for sure.
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.
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