Subscription services that provide more options when it comes to owning a car might end up failing, but from an investment standpoint nearly every large OEMs, including startups and several dealerships, indicate that this is a real market shift and not just a trend.
What “flexible ownership” means differs drastically for programs. Some offer total flexibility to swap in and out of cars whenever the consumer wants, but it comes at a hefty price. Others offer used vehicles and fewer amenities for a lower price. Some OEMs have traditional lease programs that add-on insurance and maintenance, while other dealerships are bypassing the manufacturers altogether.
It’s hard to tell if this trend will grow to 30% or more of the market like traditional leasing has, or if consumers will come to see it as a glorified rental.
Grayson Brulte, President of consulting firm Brulte & Co., told Auto Finance News back in January that these programs are largely going to serve as the testing grounds and starting point for a world in which fleets are 100% autonomous and the need for car ownership is largely diminished.
“On a traditional three-year lease, [the industry] knows how the system works, but if you’re on a one-month, two-month, three-month lease or you’re constantly swapping out vehicles, [the industry] has to learn,” Brulte said. “You’ll see interesting pilots pop up in cities around the country and you’ll know it’s working when they announce, ‘We’ve added two more cities to the platform.’”
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