BMW launches subscription-based service in the USA
BMW is the latest to join the list of carmakers who are experimenting with providing subscription-based services, instead of customers owning their cars outright. The service called 'Access by BMW' is still in its development stage and has only been introduced on an experimental basis in Nashville, Tennessee.
The service is offered in two tiers, Legend and M. The Legend plan, costing $2,000 (Rs 1.3 lakh) a month, gives users access to the 530e xDrive, 540i, X5 xDrive35i, 440i Coupe, 440i Convertible, and M2. The M plan, on the other hand, can be had for $3,700 (Rs. 2.4 lakh) a month and includes the use of the M5, X5 M, X6 M, and M4 convertible. The cars come with a full tank of fuel but further fill-ups are the customers' responsibility.
A $575 joining fee is charged and the service can be paused for $200. The minimum sign-up period is 32 days. Users can drive the cars for 2000 miles (3,219 km) a month, and any unused distance is carried over to the next month. On crossing this limit, customers need to pay 50 cents/mile (Rs 32/1.6 km) charge.
Given that the program is limited to a small area, changing vehicles is not a big issue but this might be affected when more customers join in or a bigger area is serviced.
This service comes at a time when Porsche and Cadillac are also conducting trial launches of similar programs. Porsche's 'Passport' service allows users in the Atlanta, Georgia area access to its 718 Boxster, 718 Cayman S, Macan S, and Cayenne models at $2,000 (Rs 1.3 lakh) per month while a $3,000 (Rs 1.9 lakh) fee can get users most vehicles in the carmaker's range, including the Porsche 911 Carrera S, Panamera 4S, Macan GTS, and Cayenne S E-Hybrid.
Cadillac also runs a similar service in the New York area called 'Book'. Members can pay a $1,500 (Rs 97,000) fee and get access to the entire line-up of Cadillac cars, including the performance-oriented V models.
The launch of these services is the carmakers' reaction to lowering car ownership levels in the West. The growth in popularity of ride-hailing services like Uber, a large upfront cost and regular expenses on maintenance means that buyers, especially millennials, are putting off buying a car altogether. In India, these services are a long way away, but an initiative by a mainstream car-maker might make it easier for first-time car buyers have easier access to a car.
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