Mercedes-Benz is the latest to jump on the car subscription bandwagon with the new program Mercedes-Benz Collection starting in Nashville, Tennessee and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Tuesday. The program is still in a trial phase and depending on the success could be expanded to more cities.
It follows Mercedes' announcement in March of the Mercedes me Flexperience subscription for the German market, as well as BMW's announcement in April of the Access by BMW subscription trial, also for Nashville.
Still relatively new, car subscriptions allow flexibility and typically involve subscribers paying a monthly fee that provides unlimited access to a selection of vehicles, and includes the costs of insurance, maintenance and pickup and delivery. Basically, you only need to pay extra for the fuel you use.
"We know there is a market opportunity for people who would like the ability to move in and out of vehicles, depending on what they need or want at a particular point in time, or who don't want to own a vehicle right now,” Mercedes' U.S. chief Dietmar Exler said. “That's why we are excited to test the waters."
Mercedes-Benz Collection provides subscribers with three subscription tiers—Signature, Reserve and Premier—with the selection of vehicles varying for each tier. The subscription starts at $1,095 per month and tops out at $2,995. There's also a one-time joining fee of $495.
There are multiple body styles to choose from in each tier and for an additional fee subscribers will be able to opt for a vehicle in a higher tier for single day, for example for a special occasion. The choosing of vehicles and picking of a delivery time and location is all handled via an app, with requests received by noon typically fulfilled by the next day. A concierge delivers the car washed, with a full tank of gas and takes away the previous car.
Each tier also provides access to some Mercedes-AMG models, and Mercedes is also looking at additional services beyond simply loaning cars. Currently, subscribers enjoy unlimited access within their tier and no mileage limitations. The monthly subscription fee also includes insurance, 24/7 roadside assistance and all maintenance.
BMW's subscription starts at $2,000 per month and includes a range of models ranging up to the 5-Series and X5 level. There are a handful of others in the game. Lincoln has cooked up a service based around its lightly used offerings. Porsche and Cadillac have programs, too, with Porsche's program costing $3,000 per month for its sports cars. Book by Cadillac was one of the first to be offered.
Volvo has a different type of subscription program. Called Care by Volvo, the program sees subscribers keep a single vehicle for the subscription period, which means the costs are much lower. Care by Volvo currently starts at $600 per month for an XC40 and will soon include the V60 wagon.