Who is winning the car subscription race in North America?
The vehicle subscription market in North America offers a high potential for dealers to expand their business and OEMs to add new services to meet increasing demand. Yet, the vast geography of the region doesn't appear to be so easy to establish a successful car subscription service.
There are specific reasons why car subscription services are not still widely spread through the region and why OEMs are especially having a hard time providing this service.
Advantages of car subscription:
- Car subscription is generally preferred for short terms, even for one month.
- A monthly payment covers all the costs, including insurance and maintenance.
- The subscriber-only pays for the fuel or the electricity.
- Cancelling a subscription is generally possible compared to a lease.
- Car subscription services become costlier in the long run, mainly if additional features such as car-swapping are used.
- The mileage limits on car subscription contracts may cause budget problems if exceeded.
- There are less than a handful of OEMs providing car subscription services in North America.
- The availability of car subscription services is not evenly distributed across the region.
What are the services in North American countries?
United States: The US car subscription market has disappointed several OEMs, which tried to get a market share but left recently. Among these brands are BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Ford and Lexus.
BMW, which withdrew from the US car subscription market in 2021, had two tiers priced at $2,000 and $3,700 per month. According to Verge, the high-end user tier was too expensive, as renting a BMW M5 cost three times more than leasing an M5 without the downpayment. The pilot program, "Access by BMW", debuted in 2018 and was available in Nashville, Tennessee.
Audi, which also launched its Audi Select program in 2018 in Dallas, ended its operations in January 2021 after failing to get the desired attention.
Mercedes-Benz, which launched ts Collection subscription service in 2018 in Atlanta, decided in 2020 that it was not logical to keep on. The company said the program was a "learning experience", but the demand level remained at "OK." The Collection program offered 30 models for a monthly fee, including roadside assistance and maintenance, but didn't manage to further the cities of Philadelphia, Atlanta and Nashville.
American auto giant Ford got out of the market by selling its car subscription subsidiary Canvas to Fair in 2019. Fair, established in 2017, accelerated its ambition to spread across the US with the acquisition. Today, Fari operates in 17 states of the US.
But OEMs still grab a small portion of the car subscription market. One is the Lexus Complete program, which offers one payment plan of $995 (without taxes). The signup fee for the program is $495. The service is available in Bellevue, Tacoma, Washington, and San Jose, California.
The all-inclusive car subscription service, Care by Volvo, is available in most US states, with offers ranging from $600 to $875 per month. The 24-month lease includes full insurance, maintenance, excess wear, and tire and wheel protection.
Porsche Drive has also expanded its service in the US by spreading to nine major cities across the US by 2021, including Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Phoenix. Porsche Drive offers three options daily rentals, single-vehicle and multi-vehicle subscriptions. Daily rentals can go up to $395 a day, while the single and multi-vehicle options start from $1,500.
The car has several subscription services in the US. The most prominent ones are Fair, Hertz My Car, Enterprise, Sixt+ and AAA. The services offer monthly services ranging between $200 and $1,500, covering almost all of the US, while Hertz offers nationwide subscriptions. Some third-party services are mainly based on apps and operate in a smaller region. DriveBLACKTIE, Go Car Subscription, Free2Move, YOYO and Borrow are the leading examples of electric vehicles (EVs).
Canada: Porsche Drive and Care by Volvo are the only car subscription services offered by OEMs in Canada. Two companies lead car subscription services in Canada; Curbo and OpenRoad Auto Group.
Curbo offers subscriptions for one to four months and features gas, all-electric and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models. Curbo has a monthly price range between $1,265 and $1,699. The price includes maintenance, insurance and roadside assistance.
Portfolio by OpenRoad is an all-inclusive car subscription service with Gold and Platinum tier vehicle options. The former is $1,799 per month, and the latter is $2,799 per month.
One other service, Auto One Drive, has recently ended its operations in Canada.
Mexico: The Mexican car subscription service is too premature, with no active OEMs and only a limited number of car subscription services. These services include Europcar, LeasePlan and Sixt.
Europcar has 125 offices in Mexico, which is expected to be acquired by Volkswagen. The German auto giant launched a $3.4 billion takeover in 2021 to purchase the car subscription service. Sixt is located in all major cities with airports and top holiday destinations in Mexico, including Mexico City and Monterrey. Sixt subscription options also include luxury cars.
On the other hand, LeasePlan focuses on providing fleet management solutions and car leasing for companies, pioneering this segment in Mexico.
The Mexican market offers high potential, however. According to Statista, the car rental industry will reach a $1.2 billion market volume by the end of 2021, and the user number is predicted to reach 9.8 million by 2025.