And you ultimately won't be happy...
If you’re a listener of Dave Ramsey, you know the financial guru is absolutely not a fan of leasing cars and he’s not alone. After all, you sink all that money into a car only to not have the asset in the end. The same thing is true of the emerging trend of car subscription services, something which automakers and others have been pushing for years because it makes them more money.
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Automakers have had mixed results with promoting subscription services. Unsurprisingly, only premium brands have even attempted these programs in North America as people who have greater amounts of disposable income and are image-focused tend to gravitate toward such luxuries. Both Volvo and Porsche have seen their services thrive, yet BMW and Audi both shut theirs down in early 2021.
There are theories about why some of these car subscription programs have flourished while others have folded. But even with the successes, few consumers would be willing to take the plunge and use such a service. For those who think without boundaries, that might seem anti-progress but people have real concerns.
Aside from not actually owning a vehicle, thus building zero equity and never enjoying not making a car payment every month, the concern that vehicles wouldn’t be well-maintained is real. This is especially true if you’re using a car subscription service where you’re constantly rotating which vehicle you’re using. Just like with any community property, it’s really nobody’s job to keep things in good condition, just like how none of your lazy roommates feel an incentive to take out the garbage or scrub the toilet.
Most people aren’t keen on sitting in a car where people could have been doing who knows what and perhaps didn’t leave the interior entirely clean or odor-free. Just riding with certain people clearly demonstrates some individuals feel strongly a vehicle is a rolling trash can.
The attraction to these car subscription services include fear of a long-term financial commitment, unwillingness to pay to maintain a vehicle, and overall flexibility. Understandably, young, single consumers are more likely to value these qualities, particularly if they have an excellent income.
Any way you cut it, a car subscription service, just like leasing, means you pay out a bunch of money and ultimately don’t get a car to your name. Some thinking owning nothing will make you happier, but what it means as far as vehicles is you never enjoy financing-free driving, which is the cheapest way to use a vehicle.
Photos via Volvo Cars, IMDB