The next time you buy a car, the dealer may ask if you want to buy, lease or subscribe. Subscribe? That’s right: The auto-buying wave of the future may be getting a new car for every season.
And the trend is starting at a handful of dealers around the country.
One dealership offering this service says it’s ideal for people who are quickly bored with their car, but can’t afford to trade it in.
“You’re going to have one monthly payment, but you are going to have access to over 20 different vehicles,” said David Wyler, president of the Jeff Wyler Auto Group.
He says customers tell him they hate being stuck in the same car for four or five years, or more. With a subscription, he says, you have options.
“You get your choice of GMC Sierras, Jeep Wranglers, Jeep Cherokees, even some midline Mercedes Benz cars and SUVs,” he said.
New car for each season
For a lot of people, Wyler says, this would be a dream come true: an SUV for January, a convertible for the summer and if you need to move a student to college, a pickup truck for a couple of weeks.
Frank Wilson, the dealership’s digital manager, says you can do it all from your smartphone, choosing the car you want that month, then waiting for it to be delivered to your home by valet (they also take the old one away).
Car buyer Brittany Meyer would love to swap out her Chrysler minivan.
“It’s really cool, because you always want to try multiple different types of cars,” she said. “Especially when you have a big car, sometimes you want a small car.”
Costs and fine print
There’s just one big downside: it’s not cheap: $950 a month, double most car payments.
But it includes door-to-door service, all maintenance (you’ll never pay for an oil change or tires) and, most importantly, they pay all insurance and taxes.
“You’ll have full-coverage insurance, no matter what car you drive,” Wyler explained, so that you don’t have to readjust your insurance premium every couple of months based on what you are driving.
Wyler also points out that while $950 sounds like a lot of money, a five-year loan on a $50,000 SUV can cost $900 a month, if you don’t make a hefty down payment. And insurance for many people is $100 a month.
We followed a valet taking a Mercedes SUV to the wife of a dealership employee, who was one of the first to sign up (and yes, they are paying the monthly fee).
“Oh, this is awesome,” she said, as the SUV arrived at her home.
Trend of the future
Don’t scoff: This could be how you drive a car 10 years from now.
Automotive News predicts many dealers will eventually offer a budget version, for about $400 or $500 a month. And Quartz says automakers like Volvo and Cadillac are already offering subscriptions of their own.
Budget-minded drivers in big cities are using the service Car2Go, where you just pay for a car when you need it.
Decide you are not happy with the car you just got? Decide you made a mistake? Just turn the car in and start over. That way you don’t waste your money.