Could Subscription Based Cars Replace Car Ownership?

Subscriptions are a big deal in our lives – subscription TV, beauty boxes, even digital magazines.  But would you subscribe to a car rather than owning your own vehicle?  Motor giant Ford is betting that people will along with several other big-name automotive producers and are looking into offer subscription-based cars.

How the idea works

People still want to have a car but what they don’t want is the commitment – the cost of running, the cost of parts if there’s a breakdown, (at, for example,) all the other expenses of being a car owner.  The idea behind a car subscription is that everything is bundled into one monthly price – the warranty, maintenance and roadside assistance as well as the vehicle itself.

There are already examples out there – Book by Cadillac offers a monthly price of $1800 so customers can swap and change their vehicle as they want.  And for those with a bigger budget, you can choose any of the 22 models of Porsche on their Passport scheme for $3000 a month.

Ford are targeting a different audience – millennials and customers who work with a budget.  Their packages start from $400 a month depending on the vehicle and other options that you choose.  You can select the mileage plan like you would select a contract for your smartphone and unused miles can roll over from one month to another.  There’s no contract and you can just give seven days’ notice to stop altogether – obviously and return the vehicle.

Ford Canvas

The scheme is called Ford Canvas and is currently based on the idea of Fair, a vehicle subscription company out of Santa Monica, California.  Run by Scott Painter and backed by BMW another others, the company recently set up a deal with Uber’s Xchange to become the exclusive supplier for US drivers who need to access a car for more than 30 days.

Canvas is still in its infancy with just 600 customers around the San Francisco and Los Angeles area so far.  But that’s the way Ford planned it, having bought a start-up called Breeze in 2016 and focusing on supplying vehicles to Uber and Lyft drivers.

Building on success

Ford intends to take this early success and offer it to a wider audience in 2018 with more customer needs to be catered for.  Month to month subscriptions is the start with greater customization coming along with the ability to cater for customers who want to use the product for the longer term at better deal prices.