Why stick to only one brand, when you could have several?
In recent months, various automakers have launched their own subscription models in the United States. The trend started with Porsche, who charges as much as $3,000 to swap out cars on a monthly basis. Volvo, BMW, and Mercedes have also announced subscriptions, which will be available in 2018. While it sounds cool to be able to switch out cars from a single manufacturer, it does limit customers to what types of cars they can drive. Luckily, there are some local alternatives that are available right now.
Automotive News spoke to the CFO of FlexWheels, a Miami-based subscription service for cars. Like the manufacturer subscriptions, FlexWheels allows customers to swap out cars up to three times per month, with insurance and maintenance included in the price. FlexWheels differs because instead of being run by a manufacturer, it is run by a dealer network in Florida. This allows customers to choose from different makes such as Audi, BMW, and Cadillac. Subscribers can drive a BMW 4 Series convertible on the weekend, then trade to a Ford F-150 for a home improvement project. This fixes the lack of options existing in a one-brand subscription.
We're trying to create a win-win solution," said Erik Day, CFO of the Warren Henry Auto Group in Miami, the company behind FlexWheels. "Everyone's telling the dealer your days are numbered. We're trying to turn it around: Why don't we bring this platform to us, the dealer network, and give them the strength and the power for this longer-term initiative?" Warren Henry currently has nine stores with 12 brands, so options are extensive. The only difficulty with more dealerships offering this type of service might be pushback from the manufacturers. Only 4% of dealerships in an Auxilio Group service currently offer a subscription, but 51% are considering the idea. Nearly one third of respondents weren't aware of the model.
So far, no company has come to a consensus on how to offer vehicles to subscribers. Some dealerships add new cars to the fleet, while others use late-model used cars. Most of these services are less than a year old, so they should evolve with time. Pricing for FlexWheels starts at $1,100 per month, but goes up to $2,800 per month for models such as the Porsche 911 and Range Rover. We love the idea of being able to subscribe to an entire portfolio of brands. Unfortunately, it still sounds like a pretty pricey option.