Vehicle subscription is a service where a customer pays a recurring fee for the right to use one or more automotive vehicles. Some vehicle subscriptions offer insurance and maintenance as part of the subscription fee; other subscriptions allow the subscriber to switch between different vehicles during their subscription period. Industry commentators consider vehicle subscription to be an alternative to owning or leasing a vehicle.
Vehicle subscriptions have been available since 2014, when flexdrive, now jointly owned by Cox Automotive and Holman Enterprises, launched. Clutch Technologies, a start-up, launched a subscription service for consumers in Atlanta in mid-2014; Flow Automotive Companies was the first automotive dealership to offer a subscription service, launching Drive Flow in Winston-Salem in 2016, using Clutch's technology platform. 2017 saw several automotive manufacturers announce and launch subscription services, including Book by Cadillac, Porsche Passport, Care by Volvo and Canvas (backed by Ford Motor Company). By 2018, a number of startups and automotive dealership companies had launched subscriptions in multiple markets  and flexdrive became the first U.S.-based car subscription company to support dealerships and fleet operators stateside and globally through its partnership with Dribe in Denmark.
Vehicle subscriptions are a type of subscription business model where a customer pays a periodic fee for the use of one or more vehicles. The difference between a vehicle subscription and buying a vehicle is that the subscription service retains ownership of the vehicle. While vehicle subscriptions and traditional automotive leases both involve recurring payments, many subscription services offer more flexibility in terms of minimum term and the ability to swap between vehicles. The main difference between vehicle subscriptions and vehicle or car rental is that most subscriptions are designed to offer full-time possession of a vehicle such that the subscription replaces the customer's primary vehicle, whereas rental involves the effort of procuring vehicles for specific dates or trips.
Vehicle subscriptions have been variously been identified as part of the "sharing economy" or part of the "subscription economy". Vehicle subscriptions have also been classified as a form of "transportation-as-a-service" and as a form of "mobility-as-a-service".
Edmunds.com observes that there is a wide variety in the types of vehicle subscriptions that are available, such that many different customer needs can be met across the various services. Most vehicle subscriptions allow customers to pay a flat periodic fee, typically on a monthly basis. Whereas some subscription offerings have no minimum term (e.g., Book by Cadillac), others do have a minimum term (e.g., Care by Volvo launched with a two-year minimum term). Vehicle subscriptions include flat-rate, no-haggle pricing. Prospective customers typically sign-up using an app. The monthly fee may include insurance, maintenance and roadside assistance. Some services include a mileage limit and some offer unlimited mileage. Several services, such as Porsche Passport and Book by Cadillac, offer the option to swap between different types of vehicles. Some services offer unlimited swaps and some restrict the number of swaps.
Types of providers and their business models
Vehicle subscriptions are offered by several different categories of company. Each category is pursuing a slightly different business model.
Several automotive manufacturers and brands offer or have announced vehicle subscriptions, including Porsche, Volvo, Cadillac, Hyundai and Ford. These services offer subscribers vehicles from a single brand or, in the case of Volvo, a single vehicle. While initial launches have tended to focus on one or two cities, there is evidence that the manufacturers will eventually offer their services more broadly: for example Care by Volvo was immediately available across the country and Book by Cadillac has expanded beyond its original launch market of New York City.
The manufacturers have announced various objectives for these programs. Volvo has described the objective of Care by Volvo as to provide convenience by offering access, insurance, maintenance and support within a single package. Cadillac has described the objective of Book by Cadillac as being to grow the number of Cadillac drivers, particularly those who are new to the brand. Porsche has described their Passport service as a way to cater to customers with highly varied lives. Ford has described Canvas as a way to grow the number of Ford drivers while also controlling the number of used vehicles hitting automotive auctions.
A number of automotive dealerships have launched vehicle subscriptions focused on the markets where they have stores. For example, the Jeff Wyler Automotive Group offers a subscription service, Wyler Fastlane, in their home market of Cincinnati. The services offered by these dealerships typically include vehicles from several different brands offered by their stores, allowing customers to drive a wide variety of vehicles.
Dealerships have talked about using subscription to meet customer needs better and to expand their role in serving drivers. Flow Automotive has talked about allowing customers to drive different types of cars as their lifestyle demands. The managers of Park Place Select in Dallas talked about transforming from a dealership to a "full-fledged transportation service".
Inride, in the Greater Washington DC / Baltimore area, launched in the summer of 2018 by auto dealer Alex Perdikis, as the very first vehicle subscription service in the Washington DC area. Autoblog.com recently featured inride along side manufacturer backed ventures as one of the leading vehicle subscription companies in the United States.
Start-ups and corporate-backed ventures
A large number of start-ups have been created to offer vehicle subscription services. One early pioneer in the vehicle subscription space was Joule, which won the a TechCrunch Seattle pitch competition in 2015. Other USA-based start-ups include Carma, which is a graduate of the Techstars incubator program, and Mobiliti. Several vehicle subscription start-ups have been founded in Europe, including Wagonex, Cocoon Vehicles and Drover, from the United Kingdom, and Dribe and Bilabonnement, both from Denmark. In 2017, Gurgaon based startup Revv, launched Asia's first monthly multi-brand car subscription program Switch, across 15 cities in India.
Start-up Clutch Technologies has operated a subscription service in Atlanta since 2014. However, Clutch's primary business is to provide software for dealerships, manufacturers and others to offer subscriptions.
Several established companies have created new business units that are offering vehicle subscriptions. In the US, Cox Enterprises launched flexdrive. In Europe, LeasePlan, a vehicle leasing company, will offer subscriptions with their CarNext.com platform.
Cluno, a multi-brand car subscription service operating in Germany, was founded in October 2017. Cluno offers a vehicle subscription model with an all-inclusive monthly fee which includes everything but gas. The monthly fee depends on the vehicle. After the minimum term of 6 months, Cluno offers the opportunity to switch to another model or pause the subscription in a three months’ notice. On October, 31th, 2018 Cluno launched the first car subscription App for iOS in Germany which allows browsing, select and subscribe to a car per digital signature within only a few minutes.
A first car subscription service in Czech Republic, called Driveto Klub, was launched in October 2018 by Driveto. Driveto was founded in Prague in 2017 and started as an online aggregator of operating lease offers. The majority of the start-up is owned by Miton, an online investment group from Jablonec nad Nisou. The subscription service offers mobility with an all-inclusive monthly fee, excluding gas. There is no minimal contract length and the car can be switched for different one or returned any time. Besides the regular monthly fee, there is a one-time starting fee at the beginning of the contract. Driveto Klub inventory is multi brand and offers different kinds of cars from SUV to roadster and is updated every day.
Australia's car subscription services include HelloCars and Carly, both launched in early 2019. Both services include registration, insurance and maintenance, such as servicing. Subscribers can also start, change or stop their subscription at any time, as there are no long term lock-in contracts, finance or leasing agreements. As a registered NSW motor dealer, HelloCars subscription vehicles are owned and operated by HelloCars while Carly utilises peer-to-peer customer vehicles offered in partnership with sister company DriveMyCar Rentals Pty Ltd.
List of vehicle subscription services
|Book by Cadillac||General Motors||Manufacturer||New York City, Dallas and Los Angeles, USA||Active|
|Borrow||n/a||Start-up||Los Angeles, CA||Active|
|Canvas||Ford||Manufacturer||San Francisco and Los Angeles, USA||Active|
|Care by Volvo||Volvo||Manufacturer||USA||Active|
|Carma||n/a||Start-up||Chicago, Columbus, USA||Active|
|Car Subscriptions||Cocoon Group Ltd||Corporate venture||United Kingdom||Active|
|Cocooned||Cocoon Vehicles Ltd||Corporate venture||United Kingdom||Active|
|Drive Flow||Flow Automotive Companies||Dealership||Winston-Salem and||Active|
|Drive Germain||Germain Motor Company||Dealership||Columbus, USA||Active|
|Drive Options||Bernie Moreno Companies||Dealership||Cleveland, USA||Active|
|flexdrive||Cox Automotive & Holman Enterprises||Corporate Venture||Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Phoenix, Rhode Island, Sacramento, South Florida, Virginia ||Active|
|Flexigo Cars||Cocoon Vehicles Ltd||Corporate venture||United Kingdom||Active|
|FlexWheels||Warren Henry Auto Group||Dealership||Miami, USA||Active|
|HelloCars||Innovate Automotive Pty Ltd||Dealership||Sydney, Australia||Active|
|inride||Alex Perdikis / Koons of Silver Spring, Inc.||Start-up/ Dealership||Silver Spring, MD & Greater Washington D.C. and Baltimore area||Active|
|Lux.Car||H & H Automotive||Dealership||Omaha, USA||Active|
|Park Place Select||Park Place||Dealership||Dallas, USA||Active|
|Mobiliti||n/a||Start-up||n/a (previously in Austin and Detroit)||N/A|
|MotorEnvy||MotorEnvy||Start-up||Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania||Active|
|Porsche Passport||Porsche||Manufacturer||Atlanta, USA||Active|
|Car Subscriptions by STL||Short Term Leasing Ltd||Corporate venture||United Kingdom||Active|
|Subscribe & Drive||Cocoon Vehicles Ltd||Corporate venture||United Kingdom||Active|
|Switch||Revv||Start-up||Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi NCR, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Mangalore, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Visakhapatnam, Mysore & Coimbatore in India||Active|
|Wyler Fastlane||Jeff Wyler Automotive||Dealership||Cincinnati, USA||Closed|
|ZipCar Commuter||Avis Budget Group||Other||Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C in the USA; Toronto, Canada||Active|
- "What Are Car Subscription Services? | Edmunds". Edmunds. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "What is a Car Subscription Service?". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Autotrader - page unavailable". www.autotrader.com. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
- Journal, Fran Daniel Winston-Salem. "Flow Automotive offers chance to flip cars using Drive Flow with Clutch". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "A guide to car subscriptions, the alternative to buying and leasing". Roadshow. 19 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Sandler, Emma. "5 Subscription Services Ushering New Ownership Models". Auto Finance News. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
- Bonnington, Christina (2 December 2017). "You Will No Longer Lease a Car. You Will Subscribe to It". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "How The Sharing Economy Will Impact Car Ownership in the Immediate Future – Condor". Condor. 13 December 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Why buy or lease, when you can subscribe?". Daily News. New York. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Your Next Car Might Be A Subscription". Fast Company. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Wayland, MIchael (27 November 2017). "Vehicle subscription services expand". Automotive News.
- jeff.youngs (11 December 2017). "Vehicle Subscription Services Emerge as New Car Ownership Model". J.D. Power Cars. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Introducing BOOK by Cadillac, a Bold New Luxury Vehicle Subscription Model". media.gm.com. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Inc., Porsche Cars North America,. "Porsche Launches New Sports Car and SUV Subscription Program". PR Newswire. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "BOOK by Cadillac Luxury Vehicle Subscription Service to Be Introduced in Los Angeles and Dallas". media.gm.com. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Care by Volvo: Click, Subscribe and Drive the new XC40 starting at an all-inclusive $600 per month". media.volvocars.com. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "5 questions for the Volvo XC40s US product planner". Autoweek. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Caddys of Conquest: Book by Cadillac Subscription Service Expands to Dallas and L.A." Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Dealership to Offer 1st Car Subscription Service in Texas". NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Puppies and cars: Meet the winners from Seattle's TechCrunch pitch off". GeekWire. 26 June 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Introducing the Techstars Mobility Class of 2017 – Techstars". Techstars. 17 July 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
- "400 Bad Request". etradewire.com. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
- "Wagonex claims car subscription service is 'UK first'". am-online.com. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
- "Drover picks up £5.5M funding for its car subscription marketplace – TechCrunch". techcrunch.com. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
- "Nyt bilkoncept: Var det noget med en Lamborghini på abonnement?". Berlingske Business (in Danish). 5 January 2018. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
- "Bil på abonnement. Er du klar?". Dagbladet Børsen (in Danish). Retrieved 29 March 2018.
- ANI (19 May 2017). "Revv launches first car subscription platform 'Switch'". Business Standard India. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
- "With Revv's multi-brand car subscription, you could drive a new car every month". The Financial Express. 17 May 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
- "Revv Launches Multi-Brand Car Subscription Platform Switch". News18. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
- "Planning to buy a car? Just rent it for Rs 25,000 per month from this startup". Moneycontrol. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
- "Clutch Technologies – About Clutch". Clutch Technologies. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
- Treece, James (22 July 2017). "Who will order car subscriptions?". Automotive News. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Frank (13 February 2018). "CarNext.com offers leases and subscriptions on used LeasePlan cars". Fleet Europe. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "LeasePlan targets subscription model for new and used cars as profits rise". fleetnews.co.uk. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Loritz, Mary. "Munich-based digital car subscription startup Cluno raises €25 million in Series B funding | EU-Startups". Retrieved 9 April 2019.
- "Cluno, the Munich-based 'car subscription' service, raises €7M Series A". TechCrunch. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
- KG, Vogel Communications Group GmbH & Co. "Auto-Flatrates: "Der Markt ist mitten in einem brutalen Umbruch"". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
- "Driveto.cz spouští dlouhodobý pronájem aut bez závazku a bez papírování". Retrieved 19 February 2019.
- Simmons, David. "The minds behind DriveMyCar launch Carly: like Netflix but for cars". Business News Australia. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
- "Zipcar Rolls Out Dedicated Weekday Vehicle for Commuters | Zipcar Press Center". www.zipcar.com. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Borrow Info". BORROW. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Muller, Joann. "Ford Explores Alternatives To Car Ownership With Canvas Vehicle Subscription". Forbes. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Car, Carma. "Carma | Month-to-Month Car Subscription". www.carmacar.com. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Car Subscriptions Archive – Cocoon Group Ltd". www.cocoon-group.co.uk. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
- "Car subscription service Cluno scores $28M in Series B funding led by Peter Thiel's Valar Ventures". TechCrunch. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
- "Cocooned Car Subscriptions – A new way to short term car lease | Cocoon Vehicles Ltd". www.cocoonvehicles.co.uk. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
- "Condor Detroit – About Us". Condor. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Drive Flow – Homepage". Drive Flow. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Driveto.cz spouští novou službu pro pronájem aut, jejichž dobu užívání si určuje samotný řidič". Retrieved 19 February 2019.
- "Driveto – Homepage". Driveto. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
- "Drive Options – Drive Options – About us". Drive Options. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Mercedes or Maserati? Bernie Moreno brings luxury car subscriptions to Northeast Ohio". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Flexible Car Subscriptions – A New Way To Get A Car | Drover". www.joindrover.com. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Currux – Car Subscription Service Platform". currux.com. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
- "flexdrive". https://www.flexdrive.com/. Retrieved 23 April 2019. External link in
- "Flexigo Cars". flexigocars.uk. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
- FlexWheels. "FlexWheels Officially Launches its Subscription Vehicle Service for Greater Miami & Broward Areas". PR Newswire. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Flex Wheels – Homepage". Flex Wheels. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Car Subscription HelloCars.com.au". HelloCars. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Startup Spotlight: Joule wants to disrupt car ownership with 'vehicles as a service' model". GeekWire. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Lux.Car – About Clutch". Lux.Car. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- writer, Cole Epley / World-Herald staff. "New-to-Omaha Lux.Car program will deliver a new ride whenever you want – for $975 a month". Omaha.com. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Tewart, Mark (14 March 2018). "Can Offering Car-Subscription Service Options Benefit Dealers?". CBT Automotive Network. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Park Place Select – Park Place Select auto subscription". Park Place Select. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Mobiliti". Mobiliti. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
- "Car Subscriptions by STL". https://short-term-leasing.co.uk. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
- "Subscribe and Drive". subscribeanddrive.co.uk. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
- "Switch – by Revv". switchbyrevv.com. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
- "Revv Self Drive Car rentals". revv.co.in. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
- "Wagonex". wagonex.com. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Matarese, John (19 January 2018). "New Wyler service gives you a new car each month". WCPO. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Wyler Fastlane – Wyler FastLane car subscription". Wyler Fastlane. Retrieved 28 March 2018.