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Car Subscription Service Guide: The alternative to buying and leasing

It's 2018. We have drones and hoverboards, unlock our phones by scanning our faces, and anything in the world can be delivered to your door with a few clicks. Why should we buy or lease as the only way to drive a car?

Luckily, vehicle subscriptions are becoming increasingly popular. Think of it like any other subscription: Sign up for what you want, then cancel it when you're done. From automakers to third parties, there are many ways to subscribe to your next new car.

The OEMs

If you're familiar with a vehicle subscription service, it's probably one of them. Essentially, you pay a monthly fee to a manufacturer for accessing multiple vehicle models in its lineup. In addition to access, this fee covers the costs of insurance, maintenance and roadside assistance.

BMW access is controlled via a special app, as with most subscription services.


BMW now has a pilot program in Nashville for its subscription service, Access by BMW . The program is two-stage like Porsche and is not cheap like Porsche. The first stage, which BMW calls "Legend", will bring in $ 2,000 a month to customers, giving them access to vehicles such as the 4 Series, 5 Series and X5 (without M models) as well as the excellent M2. The upgrade to the $ 3700 million level and things will be really interesting with accessing the M4 Convertible, M5, M6 Convertible, X5M and X6M.

Vehicles can be ordered through the App Access by BMW appear to be no restrictions on vehicle swaps. Your monthly subscription fee includes insurance and roadside assistance as you expect. The program is backed by local dealers rather than BMW companies and BMW has not announced whether / when it will expand the program beyond Nashville.

Book by Cadillac gives customers access to the entire vehicle range of the car manufacturer.


The Cadillac service was one of the first OEM subscriptions announced at its January 201

7 launch. Initially, it was only available in New York City, but while the program was continued, its service area was expanded and will soon be available to drivers in Dallas and Los Angeles.

Getting in costs a bit of money. First there is a registration fee of $ 500, and then you make $ 1,800 a month for the service. The advantage of Book is that you have access to some of the best things Cadillac manufactures, and you can swap cars up to 18 times a year. Moreover, if you are accepted, your spouse can legally drive the vehicles as well.

Say you want an Escalade to drive around during the week and then you want to exchange it for a CTS-V for the weekend. No problem. With Book, just start the app and make your pick, and a concierge service will deliver your vehicle for you.

Cadillac's user agreement states that the members responsible for returning the vehicle to Cadillac clean are not dog-hair or weird odors, so you will not be fined $ 150. After all, the deductible for insuring Book $ 1,000 is also factor in your decision.

Care of Volvo originally launched with the crossover XC40. Volvo says its entire product line will soon be available through Care.


In 2017, Volvo introduced the Care by Volvo service alongside the new XC40 crossover at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Swedish automaker has since promised to include all its models in the Care program, but right now we only have prices for the XC40.

The Care by Volvo plan for the XC40 starts at $ 600 a month for the T5 Momentum trim and goes up to $ 700 a month for the T5 R design, which you can both configure yourself. You start with a deposit of $ 500, which will be credited towards the payment of your first month.

Some of the more critical aspects of the Care by Volvo plan are the excessive wear and tear used in your subscription. Basically, this means that when you return your car, Volvo will award $ 1000 in additional costs and vehicle damage. If you park only for feeling, you can still pay for deep scratches or dents, but this should help soften the impact.

Volvo also includes a road hazard plan for tires and wheels, if somebody drops a box of nails the back of their handyman truck and your tire picks them up, it's covered. If you fall into one of the man-eating potholes in Detroit and your rim is so bad that it stops breathing or can not be balanced, that's covered too. However, it is not possible to destroy the rim of your Volvo, so practice your parallel parking in something else.

Under Volvo's service and maintenance plan, all repair and wear items are in the top three services (10,000, 20,000, and 30,000 miles). These include things like brake pads, wiper blades, fluids, etc. That sounds pretty good, but typically, maintenance items in the first 30,000 miles of the car ownership are not such a big deal, for example they need to replace a set of brakes at 30,000 miles on something like the XC40 would be atypical.

Unlike the more expensive Cadillac and Porsche programs, Care by Volvo allows you to change cars only every 12 months in most markets. While this is still better than most leasing programs, it is not ideal for those of us who suffer from a lack of commitment.

The subscription service of the Mercedes-Benz Collection offers members access from wagons and SUVs to coupes and AMG models. for a price.


Mercedes-Benz has been talking about its pilot program for a car subscription service for months, but now it's a reality. The program is called Mercedes-Benz Collection and, like most other OEM programs, is not cheap, but it might be worth it if you really love this star.

The program is entitled "Mercedes-Benz Collection". and it actually offers a pretty wide range of cars for those who subscribe. The plan, like others from OEMs, has more than one stage. The reserve budget costs $ 1,595 per month and gives you access to vehicles such as the C43 AMG E400 Wagon and the GLE350 SUV. For $ 2,995 a month, you can access the Premier level, allowing you to drive in a C63 S sedan, a G550 SUV or an SL550 Roadster.

If your jaw is on the ground the price of the Premier Stage, you're not alone. That's a lot of money a month, but the ability to switch to different vehicles with the concierge service of the Mercedes-Benz Collection in minimal time is pretty cool. As with most subscription plans, the cars are cleaned and fueled, and the plan includes insurance.

Joining is a relatively simple process. All you need to do is download the Mercedes-Benz Collection app, read the prompts that contain a photo of your driver's license, and within 24 hours you should decide on your application. Then you pay a registration fee of $ 495 and you're in.

Depending on the model Porsche Passport offers different ranks.

Porsche Passport

The Passport service from Porsche is expensive, but offers a lot for your money. First, there are two levels from which to choose. The first stage called Launch will give you a decent $ 2,000 a month and give you access to an unlimited stream of Caymans, Boxster, Macan and Cayenne.

If you're a real shooter, you can upgrade to the Accelerate Plan, which costs $ 3,000 a month and gives you access to those three magic numbers that drive every Porschephile crazy: 911. Panamera, too. However, exclusive models like the GT3 RS are taboo. Sorry

The next thing you need to know, and perhaps the biggest problem of the entire Porsche Passport program, is the geographical area in which it is served. If you do not live in Atlanta, you're lucky for now. Apart from that, everything is sunshine and roses. Porsche does not limit the number of vehicles you can switch to, and its insurance is decent, but still with a deductible of $ 1,000.

Unlike Cadillac's book, Passport contains detailed washes as part of its fee, so you're (theoretically) never paid to turn on a dirty car. There are also no mileage restrictions, so if you want to trip your borrowed Panamera S around the US roads, that should be fine.

If you apply, you pay a registration fee of $ 500, and Porsche expects you are a member for no less than 31 days. The rest is easy and is handled either by the app of Porsche or its concierge service.

Third Party Services

These subscription services are not supported and managed directly by a vehicle manufacturer. Most offer used vehicles, and prices vary greatly, as does the degree of bundling. For example, some services provide insurance that is bundled with the vehicle while others help you find insurance. Others let you find out for yourself. The advantage for third-party services is that they are usually much cheaper than the OEM options and are less expensive ways to get into a vehicle.

The Canvas product range consists exclusively of Ford and Lincoln products.


Canvas is a completely different kind of subscription service. It is backed by Ford Credit and exclusively offers Ford and Lincoln vehicles, but instead of having brand new, shiny cars, you pay for used, several-year-old vehicles. In fact, most of the cars available in Canada in West Los Angeles date from the 2015 model year.

The Canvas program is more a la carte, allowing users to choose different subscription lengths and mileage packages to go with their vehicles. Insurance is included, as with most subscription services and Canvas cars come with Ford Protects Premium Maintenance Plan. This package includes routine oil changes, multi-point inspections, as well as some preventative care and replacement of normal wearing parts.

The pricing of Canvas is also interesting, also because of the character à la carte. When you sign up for Canvas, first choose a subscription length of one to twelve months. The longer your subscription, the lower the monthly fee. For example, a subscription for one month would cost $ 375, while a subscription for 12 months would cost only $ 50 a month.

Next, select your vehicle. Canvas's cheapest option is a 2015 Ford Fiesta S sedan priced at $ 329 a month, and it will take up to 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible that returns you a not insignificant $ 629.

Finally, you choose your mileage package. If you are planning to travel 500 miles per month or less, congratulations, there will be no additional cost to you for your subscription and car fee. However, if you plan regular overland trips, you clearly need the unlimited mileage package. Whichever car you choose, this can range from an additional $ 80 a month for the Fiesta S sedan to $ 135 a month for the convertible Mustang.

Flexdrive allows you to use one app and fees per week.


Flexdrive allows you to select a car through its app, pay a weekly fee – which varies from car to car – and pay additional mileage. One of the advantages is that with Flexdrive, you do not have to choose in advance how long your subscription will take, unlike Canvas. This and the weekly rates offer a lot of flexibility that can be cool for someone who only needs to travel occasionally.

As with other subscription services, routine maintenance is included, as is insurance. But like Canvas, you do not get a new car. The model years are from 2014 to 2017 and the costs are not very low either. A 2015 Honda Accord in Atlanta will lead you to either $ 219 a week or $ 876 for four weeks.

Flexdrive is currently available in selected parts of Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Less is available only in San Francisco Bay Area now.


Less is a bay-only service that works much like a traditional lease, except that you may change your car once a year during your three-year contract. Less also offers a monthly rebate on their lease to compensate for the $ 399 annual membership fee, which incidentally is the only money you pay directly to Less. Your monthly payment goes to the dealer from whom you got your car.

Your choice of cars is pretty good in terms of quality, if not diversity, with about 12 options at a given time. Less choose luxury cars and SUVs from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, each with a sticker price of more than $ 60,000, negotiating rates in bulk that will allow the discount it passes on to the customer.

plans allow 12,000 miles per year with an additional $ 0.25 per mile thereafter. Maintenance is provided by the manufacturer's prepaid maintenance plan, which is included in the agreed rental cost. Drivers are expected to pay for their own insurance, so make sure you include that in the cost.

This is a more traditional way for those who are comfortable with extended commitments and those who simply want to save a little dough.

Borrow only offers electric vehicles in its Los Angeles-based fleet.


Borrow is a subscription service for electric cars that gives you an EV for three, six or nine months. Borrow works more like a rental service, as all vehicles remain the property of Borrow. The EVs it provides to customers are all available and available only in Los Angeles.

Customers can currently choose between two electric vehicles with different prices. The lowest cost level is the "city" plan. Those who choose the city map can choose between a Nissan Leaf or a Fiat 500e and prices range from $ 499 per month for three months to $ 399 per month for nine months

The next step is the premium plan. This gives users access to a BMW i3 or a Volkswagen eGolf. This level ranges from $ 624 a month for three months to $ 524 a month for nine months. There is a third "Platinum" stage planned that offers a Tesla Model S, but this is not yet available to subscribers.

Insurance is not included in the monthly subscription fee, but Borrow says that it can help in finding insurance and bundles with your monthly payment. Maintenance and breakdown assistance are both included.

Borrow is the lifestyle focus of third-party options with its promise of swag bags, new products, event and restaurant discounts. While it could be good for someone who is in Los Angeles for a predetermined period of time, if used EV rates are what they are, it is probably not a big choice for someone who lives here permanently, kind of like a furnished apartment in close to movie studio.

Fair does not include users in a firm contract.


Fair is another rental-like program that is almost completely online. Users need to download the Fair App and then scan their driver's license to get approval. Fair then makes a gentle review of their loan to determine the maximum payment they qualify for and displays a collection of vehicles in their area that they can afford.

Again, the user is different from a leasing contract not included in a fixed contract. Fair offers customers the opportunity to exchange or return vehicles. Another important difference is that, unlike other subscriptions, Fair requires a "start payment" that is higher than your typical monthly payment and is linked to the total value of the car.

Fair offers a three-day / 100-mile return policy that allows users to return the vehicle if they do not like it, but after that or if there is damage to the vehicle within that time period, the startup payment will not be refunded. So be careful.

The fair does not cover the cost of your monthly payment, but like some of the other services we have covered, it will help you to find insurance. Routine vehicle maintenance is included, think of oil changes, fluids, and tire spins, but other issues come out of the bag.

Everything else happens through the app. You make your payment through the app by linking to a bank account, you can find your vehicle documents in the app, etc. It seems pretty convenient, and with no obvious mileage restrictions (based on documentation) it would be a good way most people want a car , Fair also has a wide choice when it comes to what vehicles are offered, whether you are looking for an economy car, a truck or SUV or even an EV.

Carma was part of the Techstars Mobility Accelerator program in Detroit in 2017 and currently has two pilot programs in Chicago and Columbus, OH.


Carma, based in Detroit, has pilot programs in Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, and focuses on the mainstream auto buyers as well as the dealer / dealer side of things. Although there is no fixed list of vehicles being offered, the founders are clear that they will not supply commercial customers. Lyft and Uber driver, look elsewhere. The drivers must be 21 years old and have a clean road record.

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