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Jeep Trials Subscription Programs

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The alternative initiatives are launching in Boston next week

Automakers experimenting with subscription programs have typically been upscale brands. But Fiat Chrysler is embarking on a subscription pilot of its own with the Jeep brand, and it's taking an altogether different approach. Two of them, in fact, according to the latest.

Bloomberg reports from the Detroit Auto Show that Jeep is partnering with peer-to-peer car-sharing startup Turo to let existing owners share their vehicles with other drivers. At the same time, it's launching another initiative with the car-rental giant Avis Budget Group to let Jeep owners try out other vehicles produced by FCA.

Both pilot programs are scheduled to start next week in Boston and last for three months before executives in Auburn Hills determine what's working and what's not.

"All these people who are casually going, ‘Is it for me or not for me?,’ I can then get them as potential prospects to sell them a brand-new Wrangler,” said Jeep brand chief Tim Kuniskis. "We’ll find out what’s good and what’s bad, what customers like and what they don’t like, and ultimately from that, we’ll decide if we want to do this as something we promote to our dealerships at the time of sale.”

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"We know all the pluses and minuses of subscription services, we’ve seen some challenges,” said Kuniskis. "Let’s step our toe in, let’s see if this is, No. 1, right for the brand. If it makes sense, let’s try it.”

Jeep won't be the first brand to trial a subscription program – but it may be the most "accessible” of them to date. Others that have launched similar initiatives include BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Volvo, GM's Cadillac division, and Ford's Lincoln. Most have piloted their programs in specific geographic markets, but Jeep's will be the first launched in Boston.

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