BMW and Others Enter the Subscription Plan Fray

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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-04/bmw-pilot-puts-subscribers-in-performance-cars-at-3-700-a-month
BMW Subscription Pilot Puts You in a Top Tier Car for $3,700 a Month
  • Subscription model lets drivers constantly trade for new rides
  • Lower-tier service charges $2,000 for mainstream SUVs, sedans
BMW AG’s new U.S. subscription pilot will put drivers into the brand’s top performance cars for as much as $3,700 a month as the German automaker tests a new ownership model with its most exclusive customers.

The app-based service -- which begins in Nashville, Tennessee, this week -- provides members with unlimited access to a fleet of BMWs for a set monthly fee. The pricier “M” tier puts drivers behind the wheels of sports cars like the M5, which retails for more than $100,000, while the $2,000-a-month version lets subscribers summon top-selling models like the X5 SUV, 5 Series sedan and plug-in hybrid versions of both.

“The reason why we went with the upper tier, especially the ‘M’ tier, is we think we can learn an awful lot more with that clientele,” said Ian Smith, Chief Executive Officer of BMW Group Financial Services in the Americas, which is running the pilot. “This is about learning and ensuring with our dealer partners that we’re building a business model that’s sustainable for the longer term and not something that’s going to be a fad for this year.”

The Access by BMW pilot follows in the footsteps of General Motors Co.’s Cadillac, which started its Book subscription service in January 2017, and Porsche AG, which launched a pilot last October that combines lease, insurance and maintenance into one monthly payment. By allowing subscribers to swap cars with the push of a button, BMW is trying to appeal to consumers whose shopping and transportation habits have been shaped by Silicon Valley giants like Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc.

The $3,700 price tag for the top tier is nearly three times the cost of the monthly lease payments on a 2018 M5 sedan in the Nashville area -- though a lease requires a total upfront payment of $5,724. The monthly subscription price also includes vehicle maintenance, insurance and roadside assistance.

If the Nashville pilot proves successful, BMW would launch a third, less expensive tier to broaden access to the service, Smith said.

BMW Financial Services will foot the cost of the pilot and depreciation risk of the vehicles, while the Nashville dealership will service, clean and deliver cars. Clutch Technologies LLC, which also powers Porsche’s Passport subscription pilot, is running the mobile app and predictive analytics to enable the service.
 

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BMW, starting in the Nashville, TN area, is going to experiment with a car-by-month subscription service, somewhat similar to what Cadillac, Porsche, and Volvo are doing. If it is successful, this feature could expand. Mercedes will (apparantly) soon follow.

https://www.autoblog.com/2018/04/05/bmw-monthly-subscription-service/

BMW has now officially launched its new vehicle subscription service and released pricing details, becoming the latest automaker to embrace the more flexible alternative to traditional leasing. It's called Access by BMW, and it'll offer a selection of vehicles in two tiers via a new mobile app or dedicated website.

The program launches as a pilot, and it's limited for now to Nashville, Tenn., and surrounding areas. But BMW says it could expand the program if it proves successful.

Under Access by BMW, members (as car buyers will presumably be known as these programs proliferate) can request a vehicle based on their needs via a mobile app available for both iOS and Android. Then, a BMW concierge will deliver a vehicle that most closely matches the member's needs to their location and at the desired time. It'll arrive freshly detailed, pre-set to your desired preferences and with the gas tank topped off. Members can swap vehicles as many times as they like within a given month, and they can also switch between the two pricing tiers.

Prices are $2,000 or $3,700 a month, depending on which tier you choose, and include taxes and fees, maintenance, full detail washes, a $1 million liability insurance policy with a $1,000 driver deductible, a 2,000-mile monthly cap and the company's roadside assistance service. The former rate gets you into the "Legend" tier, which offers access to vehicles ranging from the 4 Series coupe and convertible to the 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid, the M2 and the X5 crossover. The "M" tier features more powerful, performance-focused models like the M4 convertible, the all-new M5 and the X5M and X6M SUVs.

There's also a $575 joining fee.

"As customers continue to explore the growing mobility market, service-related offerings are becoming more in demand," Ian Smith, CEO of BMW Financial Services USA, said in a release. "With Access by BMW, our members will enjoy the freedom of personal mobility with access across a broad range of our highly emotional vehicles."

With the pilot, BMW joins a growing list of automakers that are embracing subscription services as a hassle-free option for consumers. It compares with the likes of:
  • Cadillac's Book service, which charges $1,500 a month, plus a $500 initiation fee, to use 18 vehicles in 12 months with unlimited miles.
  • Porsche's Passport service, which charges a $500 activation fee and a $2,000 or $3,000 monthly tab, depending on how many vehicles you want to drive.
  • Care By Volvo service, available nationwide, starts at $600 a month for the 2019 Volvo XC40 crossover, plus a $500 deposit, and includes maintenance (including oil changes) and wear coverage, 24-hour concierge service, roadside assistance, and insurance. It's limited to the XC40, but you can swap into a newer model after 12 months.

Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, is planning to launch its own subscription service in the U.S. this year, and Lincoln is planning to launch a pilot in California using preowned 2017 models
 

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Sorry, Folks.....I didn't know this subject had already been posted. I did a thread-search before I posted, but didn't see it listed.
 

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Sorry, Folks.....I didn't know this subject had already been posted. I did a thread-search before I posted, but didn't see it listed.
No need to apologize. Your post expands upon the original and adds valuable and useful updates and comparisons between the plans.
 

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Mercedes will (apparantly) soon follow...

Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, is planning to launch its own subscription service in the U.S. this year...
Indeed, an Automotive News story provides new details on Mercedes' USA vehicle subscription program:

Mercedes partners with dealers for subscription pilot in Nashville, Philadelphia
April 12, 2018 - Amy Wilson

Mercedes-Benz USA will launch its vehicle subscription program in Nashville and Philadelphia, setting up a head-to-head fight with BMW as the luxury rivals try out a new type of relationship with their customers. The pilot, which starts in June, will be operated in partnership with Mercedes-Benz dealers in the two cities.

BMW also is using Nashville as the test market for a subscription plan. It will start making deliveries there next month.

The Mercedes-Benz pilot, called the Mercedes-Benz Collection, is being jointly launched by the brand and its financial arm. It will offer multiple subscription tiers in each location and allow customers to frequently switch vehicles depending on needs or preference.

The company isn't yet disclosing the number of tiers being offered or pricing, but it said the monthly fee will include insurance, roadside assistance and vehicle maintenance. Each tier will offer a broad array of Mercedes-Benz vehicles and allow access to high-performance Mercedes-AMG models. BMW's program starts at $2,000 a month, with a tier that includes high-performance cars costing $3,700.

"It's going to be very interesting to find out and learn more," Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler told Automotive News at the New York auto show in late March. "We are very optimistic."

Subscribers will have unlimited access to vehicles within their tier and no mileage limitations. They will request vehicle exchanges and other actions through a smartphone app. The cars will be delivered via a concierge service.

"Dealers will play an integral role," Mercedes spokeswoman Donna Boland said in an email, "including delivering the vehicles, being the customer-facing subject matter expert, storing the vehicles and doing warranty work and maintenance."

Mercedes declined to say whether it is working with a technology partner on the app. Several dealership groups and automakers are partnering with Clutch Technologies in Atlanta. The automaker plans to share more details about Mercedes-Benz Collection in the coming weeks, Boland said.

Cadillac and Porsche are among the other luxury brands experimenting with subscription programs.
 

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An Automotive News Europe interview of Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson includes this telling question and answer:

How many people have taken advantage of your Care by Volvo subscription scheme and what is the goal?

The interest from customers is very high. The inflow is good but it is too early to provide any numbers. That being said, we didn't develop Care by Volvo to achieve a 2 percent share. This has to be a really competitive offer for the customers and for us it should provide a more cost-effective way of distribution. Care by Volvo should account for at least a quarter of our sales within five years otherwise it would be a waste of time.
 

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Care by Volvo should account for at least a quarter of our sales within five years otherwise it would be a waste of time.
Good luck with that. Or then kudos to the marketing team that convinces customers to get ripped-off.
 

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An Automotive News interview of Volvo Cars of North America CEO Anders Gustafsson includes updated numbers and projections on how the Care by Volvo subscription plan is doing so far:

In March the Volvo XC40 crossover hit dealerships, and 2,483 have been sold through April...Care by Volvo... subscribers have accounted for nearly 10 percent of XC40 sales...

How have consumers responded to Care by Volvo, the subscription service tied in with the XC40 launch?

After three months, we delivered our full-year target related to Care by Volvo. We aimed for 10 percent of our yearly sales. Right now, we are getting closer and closer to going over that 10 percent.

What really sticks out is that one-third of our customers have bought or subscribed to the car through the phone. Where I come from that is not so common. I'm super impressed how open customers are to new ideas.
 

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10% for subscription and like 80% for leasing... And Volvo has more affordable plans that might actually make sense for someone... so it seems to me that these subscription models will fail completely.
Unless 10% subscription is 80% more profitable than same 10% leasing.
 

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Unless 10% subscription is 80% more profitable than same 10% leasing.
it is not... we know the pricing, it is very similar... at least for Volvo... i doubt many will be using these $3700/month deals for BMW
 
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Now official:

Mercedes-Benz launches broadest luxury vehicle subscription plan in the U.S. with "Mercedes-Benz Collection"

Luxury Vehicle Subscription Service to Launch as Pilot in Nashville and Philadelphia

Jun 5, 2018 – ATLANTA, GA

Mercedes-Benz today launched Mercedes-Benz Collection, providing the broadest offering of any luxury automaker for those drivers who prefer the variety and convenience of a subscription service. A collaboration between Mercedes-Benz USA, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA and Mercedes-Benz dealers, Mercedes-Benz Collection allows subscribers to switch between different types of vehicles depending on their needs or lifestyle. The service is available as a pilot in two cities: Nashville, TN and Philadelphia, PA.

"We're always looking to stay ahead of our customers' needs and wants, as well as to bring new people to the brand," said Dietmar Exler, president and CEO for MBUSA. "We know there is a market opportunity for people who would like the ability to move in and out of vehicles, depending on what they need or want at a particular point in time, or who don't want to own a vehicle right now. That's why we are excited to test the waters with Mercedes-Benz Collection."

"Customer's appetites are changing when it comes to how they access products and services, and our financial and mobility services are evolving to fit those demands. Adding Mercedes-Benz Collection's subscription services to our product portfolio is a natural fit," said Geoff Robinson, vice president, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA LLC. "We are working to provide one of the most diverse offerings in the market today and expect to learn a lot from this pilot."

There are three tiers in the program – Signature, Reserve and Premier – with two offered in each city and prices ranging from $1,095 to $2,995 per month (depending on city/level). Subscribers pay a one-time activation fee of $495 and may then choose from all the vehicle body styles offered in that subscription tier, including Mercedes-Benz SUVs, sedans, coupes, cabriolets, roadsters and wagon models. Each tier also allows access to the company's popular high-performance Mercedes-AMG models.

The Mercedes-Benz Collection works through a combination of the new Mercedes-Benz Collection app and a local concierge. Once subscribed, customers initiate vehicle exchanges, concierge communication and other actions via the app. Concierge staff then ensure the delivery is consistent with the details and preferences in the customer's profile. Subscribers can access any type of vehicle within their tier with no mileage limitations. The monthly subscription fee for the tier also includes insurance, 24/7 roadside assistance and vehicle maintenance.

How It Works:
  • Those interested can download the Mercedes-Benz Collection app via the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and hit "Sign up"
  • Users then create an account (provide a credit card, select a plan and provide a picture of the driver's license associated with the account).
  • Information is verified, and driving and credit history are checked (subscriber may be contacted with any questions). In most cases, the application is processed and the subscriber is contacted within one business day.
  • Subscriber is contacted to find out his or her vehicle needs and desired delivery time and location. After the first delivery, subscribers put their requests in via the app. Requests received by noon can typically be fulfilled the next day.
  • Concierge delivers the new vehicle washed, with a full tank of gas and takes away the previous vehicle.
Further information on Mercedes-Benz Collection is available at collection.mbusa.com.
 

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Stating the obvious is a nonetheless excellent, in-depth article by Jackie Charniga of Automotive News . The title says it all:

Subscriptions dismissed as a 'rich person's toy'
July 14, 2018
Jackie Charniga

Vehicle subscription services are trending, of course, as automakers experiment with allowing customers to make all-in, month-to-month payments, and giving them the option to frequently switch vehicles.

But is this really the industry's next big thing?

Analysts at Edmunds put a pencil to the proposition and concluded that most automaker programs aren't worth the hefty price tag. Even with insurance, maintenance and other fees factored into monthly payments, Edmunds says subscription costs far exceed what consumers currently pay for leases.

"At these price points that we're seeing, [a subscription service] virtually makes no sense to anyone," said Edmunds senior analyst Ivan Drury during a presentation of industry trends to Automotive News.

For example, he said BMW's $3,700 per month offer for top-of-the-line vehicles such as the X6 M under the company's Access by BMW program comes to $133,200, or double what it would cost to lease that vehicle for three years.

"If you went the other route versus the subscription cost … you could essentially have two," said Drury. "You can make your own miniature fleet. You don't even need to use their program. So, it's not going to be worthwhile for a lot of people who are going to do the math. It's just a rich person's toy."

Still, automakers are convinced some customers will pay a premium flat fee for the flexibility and convenience of the programs. And since most subscription programs operate month to month, they point out that consumers can opt out at any time.

"Access by BMW members have the flexibility to swap in and out of vehicles within their membership tier as many times per month as they'd like — from a sedan for their daily commute to an SAV for a weekend getaway and back again," a BMW spokesman said in an email.

Big markup
Flexibility aside, Edmunds says less than 1 percent of current leases involve payments as high as the $2,000-per-month starting offers from Porsche's Passport and Access by BMW. Even services on the lower end of the cost spectrum, such as Care By Volvo with monthly fees between $650 and $750, align with only about 7 percent of active leases.

Edmunds says customers subscribing to a Porsche 718 Boxster for three years pay 46.5 percent — or $23,019 — more than if they leased the vehicle.

When Porsche's Passport launched in October, Porsche Cars North America CEO Klaus Zellmer said the company considered the markup customers would be willing to pay, factoring in all ancillary lease costs, including standard insurance, registration, holding costs and depreciation.

"So, for the 20 percent markup, you get the whole choice and the peace of mind and a flat-fee agreement," Zellmer said. "And talking to customers and dealers, we are pretty confident that is an attractive offer. But, as always, you'll find out once you have it in the market."

A Porsche spokesman said in an email this month: "The Passport pilot program in Atlanta is meant as an alternative to buying or leasing. It is a premium option for customers who want the flexibility to drive a wide variety of Porsche models with the freedom of monthly membership."

A Mercedes spokeswoman said a small percentage of consumers who turn to Mercedes-Benz Collection will use it to sample different models. Those people will convert to buyers or lessees.

"This is not competing with leases," she added. "It's for different needs, different mindsets, different psychographics. They're paying a premium for the ability to do what you can't do out of any other type of automobile acquisition."

Starting at $1,095 per month, Mercedes undercuts by half the programs from BMW and Porsche.

Mass-market appeal?
Edmunds analysts say the freedom of choice automakers tout is undercut when the services are largely available through luxury brands that lack product variety. But Vince Zappa, president of subscription services platform provider Clutch Technologies, says luxury brands generally attract early adopters. He believes that's why the service has launched with prestige brands.

"You'll start to see soon partnerships with other components in the automotive marketplace that are in no way considered white glove," he said.

Several dealership groups and automakers are partnering with Atlanta-based Clutch, including Mercedes, Porsche and BMW.

"The … thing that I think would be far more appealing from a regular consumer standpoint is having a diverse lineup," said Drury. "These luxury automakers — they don't have a minivan, they don't have a pickup, they don't have these other things that on occasion you might actually want to borrow."

FCA US will jump into the subscription market in 2019 under its Jeep Wave membership program, which aims to give Jeep fans wider access to the brand's vehicle portfolio. For a monthly fee, members can choose from a variety of vehicles. The program will be offered in tiers described as "good, better, best," with varied options for insurance coverage, vehicle selection and concierge services.

Said Drury: "When the Jeep Wave program gets implemented, that might be a better indicator of mass market appeal." But about subscription services overall, he added: "I don't know how you're going to come out ahead."
http://www.autonews.com/article/20180714/RETAIL01/180719871/car-subscriptions-edmunds-analysis-lease?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Also included in the above article is this sidebar comparing the total cash outlay for 3-year lease vs 3-year subscription prices:

Premium pricing
Edmunds says subscription shoppers usually end up paying a premium for convenience and flexibility.

3-year lease cost / 3-year subscription cost / Subscription premium
Cadillac Escalade $48,932 / $65,300 / $16,368
BMW X6 M $68,974 / $133,200 / $64,226
Mercedes-Benz SLC 300 $35,031 / $39,915 / $4,884
Volvo XC40 $25,489 / $23,900 / ($1,589)
Porsche 718 Boxster $49,481 / $72,500 / $23,019
Source: Edmunds
Although the above Automotive News article heavily cites Edmunds in its research and numbers, all I could find on the latter site is a very general article that predates Automotive News' by over 3 months:

https://www.edmunds.com/car-leasing/what-are-car-subscription-services.html

Given their announced plans to start with the Volvo XC40-rivalling UX 200 and UX 250h, I'm cautiously optimistic that Lexus' subscription plan will more closely resemble Volvo's semi-reasonably priced plan than the usurious ones from BMW and Porsche. Time will tell, though...
 

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BMW responds to Mercedes-Benz's lower-priced subscription plan:

BMW cuts monthly subscription prices
July 31, 2018
Urvaksh Karkaria
Automotive News

This year, Mercedes-Benz launched its vehicle subscription service with a shocking sticker price. Starting at $1,095 per month, Mercedes undercut by half similar programs from BMW and Porsche.

It didn't take long for the competition to catch up.

BMW on Monday said it is offering a new tier in its program that lets members switch out vehicles for a monthly fee.

With its new Icon tier priced at $1,099, BMW essentially matches Mercedes-Benz's entry-level plan. The new tier provides access to several models including 330i, 330e iPerformance plug-in hybrid, X3, X2, M240i convertible and the full-electric BMW i3.

BMW also slashed the price of its two other tiers to $1,399 (from $2,000) and $2,699 (from $3,700).

This year, BMW launched its pilot subscription program at a Sonic Automotive store in Nashville. Mercedes is piloting its program in Nashville and Philadelphia.

Automakers are experimenting with subscription programs in a nod to changing realities. Rapid technological advancement, coupled with the emergence of affordable and abundant ride-hailing services, has pressured the traditional car-ownership model.

Instead of forcing consumers to buy one vehicle for every driving need, subscription programs let customers select vehicles for specific occasions -- an SUV or crossover when extended family is in town, a convertible for a weekend getaway or a compact for the downtown commute.

The price war was expected.

"As we see more and more subscription plans released, you're going to see lower and lower price points," Akshay Anand, executive analyst for Kelley Blue Book, told Automotive News in June.
http://www.autonews.com/article/20180731/RETAIL/180739922/bmw-cuts-monthly-subscription-prices
 

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Now official:
After 2 years, this one is seemingly dead. here's what Automotive News has to say:

June 29, 2020
Mercedes' conclusion about its subscription trial? In a word: Meh
URVAKSH KARKARIA

Mercedes-Benz USA will halt its two-year vehicle subscription pilot this summer, the latest automaker to walk away from the nascent business model.

Sales chief Adam Chamberlain described the service, launched in 2018, as a learning exercise to determine whether the alternative ownership model could attract new customers to the luxury brand. The executive said the pilot is ending on schedule.

"If the demand would have been unbelievable, then it could have gone further," Chamberlain told Automotive News last week. "But demand was just OK, so we kept it."

The Mercedes-Benz Collection offered subscribers access to about 30 model variants for a monthly fee, which included insurance, 24/7 roadside assistance and vehicle maintenance. Mercedes launched the program in Nashville and Philadelphia. Last summer, it was expanded to Atlanta, home to Mercedes' U.S. headquarters.

The service drew a few hundred customers, and Mercedes executives had expected it to turn a profit in the first 12 to 18 months. Chamberlain declined to comment on whether the service was ever profitable.

Changing realities?
Automakers, dealership groups and third-party technology companies are experimenting with subscription programs in a nod to changing realities.

New technologies in retailing, coupled with the emergence of affordable and abundant ride-hailing and ride-sharing services, have put pressure on the historical vehicle-ownership model. Instead of consumers buying one vehicle that attempts to meet every driving need, subscription programs allow customers to pick the vehicle for the need — an SUV for when extended family is in town; a convertible for a weekend getaway; a compact for the downtown commute.

Subscription programs also help lure new customers to an auto brand and encourage existing ones to upgrade models.

"One of the challenges of our brand is that the average age of our buyers is 55 years," Chamberlain said. "We wanted to see if the program would help bring in younger buyers, and it certainly did."

About 80 percent of subscribers were new to the brand and were, on average, 10 years younger, Mercedes said.
"We've got a mountain of data now — it gives us some insights into how we can target that younger audience that clearly have a desire for the brand," Chamberlain said.

The pilot also validated the popularity of digital applications and platforms — subscribers signed up for the service and managed vehicle ordering and delivery through a smartphone app.

"It gave us real lessons into how we can attract customers with a more digitized sales process," Chamberlain said.

Mixed results
But automakers have had mixed success with vehicle subscriptions. Some programs have struggled to attract enough people who want to pay for the convenience. Others have found customers but struggled to turn a profit.

Book by Cadillac, a subscription service from General Motors, was put on hiatus in 2018 after few customers bit at the service's $1,800-per-month price. GM is now taking another crack at the program, testing a rebooted version in a dealer pilot.

Ford Motor Co. walked away from its vehicle subscription business last fall, following lackluster demand.

Porsche Cars North America, which launched a subscription program in Atlanta in 2017, is having more success. The sports car maker has expanded the program to Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego and Toronto.

"There is a market for shorter-term access to our brand," Porsche Cars North America CEO Klaus Zellmer said in May. "The flexibility and convenience of the program is appealing to a new audience."

Porsche is seeing enough demand to justify expansion of the program to additional U.S. cities this year, a spokesman said.

Driving utilization
Subscription services are the "ultimate noncommittal car-ownership experience," said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmunds.

Pricey monthly plans, however, have kept these services from gaining mainstream adoption. Mercedes offered four membership tiers, with prices ranging from $1,095 to $3,595 a month.

"While consumers enjoy easy car ownership, there's a limit to how much they're willing to pay for it," Caldwell said.

The subscription model also faces an existential threat from a pandemic that is expected to linger for months.

"COVID-19 really will put the nail in the coffin as the idea of swapping cars is off-putting to most consumers and likely unadvisable by health officials in this environment," Caldwell noted.

In addition, the Mercedes pilot revealed a challenge that subscription programs grapple with — not enough vehicle swaps.

"At the start, customers enjoy changing the car," Chamberlain said. "After a certain period of time, that sort of gets old and they want to leave their car with their stuff in it."

The model doesn't work if vehicles aren't turned over frequently. Without vehicle churn, the automaker would have to stock large volumes of each model variant, making the program too expensive.

"You need utilization of the vehicles," Chamberlain said. "You've got a depreciating asset and it needs to be used."

To drive that utilization, vehicles in subscription programs should also be available for short-term rentals and used in loaner fleets, Chamberlain said.
https://www.autonews.com/sales/mercedes-conclusion-about-its-subscription-trial-word-meh?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
 

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So for the price of an M5 and a mortgage I can have a used M5 up to a couple years old, and maybe switch it up to other used BMWs.

Exciting.

People who have 3 or 4 grand a mo for a car subscription already have a couple of cars they like, and probably arent looking to rotate through a bunch of vehicles below their price range.
 

suxeL

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Why do folks think that software sales models can be easily translated to other aspects of life...smh.
 
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