Subscription will be a familiar term. It describes paying a recurring fee for access to, or use of, a product or service.
Vehicle subscription is a recent offering from OEMs, seeking to provide motorists with an alternative to the traditional ownership methods, of buying outright, or on finance. Its closest equivalent is leasing.
How does Subscription work?
The proposition is that the subscription model removes some of the hassle associated with ownership, such as depreciation. The subscriber covers the refuelling costs and observes milage restrictions.
Typically, subscription fees may include:
Wear & Tear
Some services will allow for regular exchange of a vehicle during the subscription period, switching models within the same brand or, in some cases, switching between brands and models.
Similar to Leasing, the subscriber does not own the vehicle but is legally responsible for its use and upkeep.
Subscription agreement terms may include limited mileage, named drivers and preclude the user from enrolling the vehicle in peer to peer sharing schemes. Like lease and rental agreements, financial penalties apply for breaches of the agreement.
Is Subscription right for me?
Like liaising, this may come down to whether or not you want to own the vehicle at the end of the contract term. If so, subscription is probably not right for you.
Subscription is a new business model, being tested by several manufacturers for customer suitability and pricing. Because it is new, it may not be available where you are.
The offering is pitched as being somewhere between a short lease and a long rental. Since these terms are fairly nebulous, you may find better priced lease or rental agreements that match your needs.
Like leasing and rental, the longer the term, the lower the price per month. Different providers offer different minimum terms, the shortest of which is 1 month.
Whilst some costs are included in the subscription price, the ‘bundle’ may not represent the most cost-effective solution for you.
Some costs are negligible, or don’t apply to all cases. For example, electric vehicles are exempt from vehicle tax, so there would be no saving. You may have to negotiate to use pre-existing insurance.
Beware ‘hidden’ charges. Policies differ by provider but you may encounter:
Parking and Speeding fine Penalty Fees
No long term-commitment to vehicle.
Vehicle insurance and maintenance costs are covered.
Depending on the service, you may be able to swap out your set of wheels for a new one for a relatively small fee, even on short notice.
More expensive than monthly payments on a comparable used vehicle.
Not as many options for vehicles to choose from as there would it be while buying, leasing or renting.
Most plans are pretty inflexible with your mileage limit; you'll be charged steep fees if you exceed allotment.
Who offers Subscription?
The car subscription market is still growing, but there are already several companies specializing in providing these services in the UK: