ATLANTA — The Mercedes-Benz vehicle subscription pilot, which starts in June, will be a long-term test that prominently involves the brand's dealerships in two markets: Nashville and Philadelphia.
Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler told Automotive News that the pilot "needs to be a year or two." The program, announced last week, will be called the Mercedes-Benz Collection.
"This is not something that corporate is doing on their own," Exler said at the New York auto show. "This is a joint kind of initiative. We will be working with our dealers together."
Mercedes-Benz USA and the brand's financial arm, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA, will jointly launch the pilot. The announcement of Nashville as one of the test cities sets up a head-to-head fight with BMW as the luxury rivals try a new type of relationship with their customers. BMW this month said Nashville would be the test market for a subscription plan that will begin deliveries in May.
The Mercedes-Benz Collection will offer multiple subscription tiers in each location and let customers frequently switch vehicles.
The automaker's two dealerships in the Nashville area and three stores around Philadelphia will be involved in "delivering the vehicles, being the customer-facing subject matter expert, storing the vehicles and doing warranty work and maintenance," company spokeswoman Donna Boland said last week.
The company isn't yet disclosing the number of tiers to be offered or pricing, but it said the monthly fee will include insurance, roadside assistance and vehicle maintenance. Each tier will offer an array of Mercedes-Benz vehicles and allow access to high-performance Mercedes-AMG models. BMW's program starts at $2,000 a month and has a tier that includes high-performance cars costing $3,700.
"It's going to be very interesting to find out and learn more," Exler said. "We are very optimistic."
Subscribers will be able to make an unlimited number of vehicle switches within their tier. They will request vehicle exchanges and other actions through a smartphone app. The cars will be delivered via a concierge service. There will be no mileage limitations.