For drivers who dream of cruising around in a Tesla but can't afford one — or just have commitment issues — there's a new option.
Entrepreneur Scott Painter, best known for founding auto pricing company TrueCar Inc., has launched a Tesla subscription service giving customers a Model 3 sedan for a flat monthly fee. The venture, called Autonomy, has acquired about 100 of the vehicles from Tesla so far.
"We own the car, you're driving it. It's a simple contract, and you can do all of this with a credit card," Painter said Thursday in an interview. "It's not a traditional lease or car loan."
The new company, based in Santa Monica, Calif., aims to capitalize on rising consumer demand for electric vehicles, particularly among those who want to experience them before committing to a purchase. Autonomy is starting in its home state, with plans to expand to other states and eventually other EV brands.
Autonomy's launch is a rebranding of a venture Painter started in 2020, called NextCar, which was originally intended as a software-as-a-service platform to help vehicle subscription providers achieve scale and operate profitably. At the time, Painter said NextCar was not a consumer-facing brand like Fair, the used-vehicle subscription service he started in 2016, but would help assemble services such as debt capital, insurance, access to inventory, fleet management and digital servicing.
"It is all of the component parts of a subscription business, but we are not focused on building our own brand and going direct to the consumer," Painter told Automotive News in October 2020.
The company remains incorporated under NextCar Holding Co., but the consumer-facing brand will be known as Autonomy, spokeswoman Shadee Malekafzali told Automotive News via email.
"NextCar was founded nearly two years ago with the intention of building the foundation to support subscriptions. Autonomy is the first subscription business operating on that platform," Malekafzali wrote.
"It was certainly built to serve anybody in the subscription space but today it's entirely focused on what we're doing with Autonomy," she wrote.