Car company subscription services are the new big thing. It started with Cadillac, then Volvo and now Porsche is the latest, with its new subscription service, Passport. Essentially, the idea behind these subscription services is the ability to pay a flat monthly fee to a car company and be able to drive a variety of different cars from the brand. It completely eschews the traditional car-owning platform for something much more hip, more millennial. We’re not sure if we like the idea just yet but it’s something that’s getting quite popular. So should BMW jump in?
First, how do these subscription services work? Well, I’ll tell you, fine reader. In the case of Porsche Passport, which we’ll use as the main example, you pay for either one of two cutely-named memberships — “Launch” and “Accelerate”. The former is the entry-level membership and costs $2,000 per month. The latter is the higher-end membership that runs $3,000 per month. With Launch, you get access to the Porsche Cayman, Boxster, Macan and Cayenne. With Accelerate, you gain access to those four aforementioned cars along with the 911 and Panamera. With either membership, you get one of the available vehicles for as long as you like, with unlimited mileage.
You can also flip it for another available vehicle at any time, as many times as you want, with no mileage or time limit on any of them. Have a Cayenne at the moment but want to take the wife on a nice weekend getaway? Take a Cayman for the weekend and get your Cayenne back on Monday. Or, maybe you like the Cayman so much you wanna keep it. No problemo. And you can make these switches as often as you want, with no time restrictions in between.
That membership fee also includes insurance, registration, full-time concierge and maintenance. So you just use the mobile app to choose your car and it’s then hand-delivered to you as if you bought a brand-new car.
These services are rather interesting in that they allow for customers to have access to as many models as they want, while not being tied down to any specific model, ever. The only restriction is brand. However, if you want to switch brands, this could get tricky and it eschew ownership, so you can’t modify, change or upgrade your car. Also, if you like owning a car that has an options list personalized to you, such as colors, interior trims and styles, this likely won’t satisfy your needs. If you like actually owning a car, becoming intimate with a car, this probably isn’t for you. But if you like just having a new car from a good brand and likes to switch up often, this could be the best possible way to “buy”.
So would you want BMW to do something similar? A membership to BMW would also be a lot less expensive, considering it has much cheaper cars than Porsche. BMW could have a membership that costs somewhere around $1,000 per month and grants access to 2 Series, 3 Series and 4 Series models, along with the X1 and X3. It could also have a membership that grants access to more luxurious models, like the 5 Series, 6 Series, 7 Series and 8 Series models. Then, there could be a performance membership, which grants access to M models.
With brands like Volvo and Porsche jumping on board, it wouldn’t surprise us if BMW and Mercedes-Benz jumped in as well. Most of their customers are lessees anyway, so this wouldn’t be all that different. Plus, with how expensive the monthly memberships are, it seems highly profitable for the car companies. So, if BMW offered such a program, would you be on board?