Vehicle subscription services are trending, of course, as automakers experiment with allowing customers to make all-in, month-to-month payments, and giving them the option to frequently switch vehicles.
But is this really the industry's next big thing?
Analysts at Edmunds put a pencil to the proposition and concluded that most automaker programs aren't worth the hefty price tag. Even with insurance, maintenance and other fees factored into monthly payments, Edmunds says subscription costs far exceed what consumers currently pay for leases.
"At these price points that we're seeing, [a subscription service] virtually makes no sense to anyone," said Edmunds senior analyst Ivan Drury during a presentation of industry trends to Automotive News.
For example, he said BMW's $3,700 per month offer for top-of-the-line vehicles such as the X6 M under the company's Access by BMW program comes to $133,200, or double what it would cost to lease that vehicle for three years.
"If you went the other route versus the subscription cost … you could essentially have two," said Drury. "You can make your own miniature fleet. You don't even need to use their program. So, it's not going to be worthwhile for a lot of people who are going to do the math. It's just a rich person's toy."
Still, automakers are convinced some customers will pay a premium flat fee for the flexibility and convenience of the programs. And since most subscription programs operate month to month, they point out that consumers can opt out at any time.
"Access by BMW members have the flexibility to swap in and out of vehicles within their membership tier as many times per month as they'd like — from a sedan for their daily commute to an SAV for a weekend getaway and back again," a BMW spokesman said in an email.