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Are Monthly Car Subscriptions the Future of Mobility?

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March 8, 2022

Are Monthly Car Subscriptions the Future of Mobility?

When I was growing up, my father taught me that owning a car is far better than leasing one. Leasing, he said, is tantamount to throwing money out the window. By contrast, owning something means investing for the long term. Owning is sustainable, the wise thing to do.

But cars are not like homes, which tend to rise in value over time. In almost all cases, cars are actually the opposite of a stable, long-term investment: They are depreciating assets. When I picture a car 10 years after its purchase, I don’t envision it expanding or being renovated over time. I see scuffed doors, a broken radio, and tens of thousands of dollars spent on something that will soon need to be replaced.

I’m not alone. Half of U.S. car owners are over the age of 60, and as many as 78% of millennials say owning a car is difficult due to high costs of gas and maintenance. Millennials and Zoomers grew up during the subscription economy. We demand convenience, and we know the difference between spending money on a worthwhile experience and a product that will go bad over time.

This is why car subscriptions are the future of mobility. They were made for the people driving that future: people who value flexibility, ease of access, and sustainability. People who value autonomy.

Car subscriptions provide flexibility

Had I purchased a car, I would have been stuck paying it off for years, not to mention being on the hook for additional maintenance and repairs. The outdated emphasis on ownership misses the fact that many young people looking to access a vehicle today don’t know where they’ll be in a few years. What if the car could be as flexible as the rest of your plans? 

Car subscription services deliver flexibility. Some offer the option to cancel after just three months, so you can drive the car for three months, a few years, or indefinitely. Monthly car subscriptions grow with you by allowing you to opt for a new car with less difficulty than leasing or buying. They also offer logistical support, making maintenance painless. 

Because of the adaptability subscription models provide, consumers are demanding this structure across industries. From Netflix to Amazon Prime, the subscription economy empowers customers to control the duration of their financial commitments. In particular, millennials and Gen Z embrace this trend. Sometimes referred to as the Spotify generation, younger consumers are moving away from ownership and prioritizing access and experience over material goods. 

Today’s drivers know that mobility means the convenience to get around, not ownership of a burdensome possession that comes with unpredictable fees and logistical hassles. With subscriptions, the car industry is catching up.

It should be way easier to access cars

Historically, getting a car has been a nerve-racking process, especially for those who don’t consider themselves natural negotiators or car enthusiasts. If the mere idea of playing hardball with a salesman or calling your dad for advice on old-fashioned bargaining tactics gives you a headache, alleviate anxiety with a car subscription service. You can kick off the subscription process on your phone in just 10 minutes, skip loan approval altogether, and be behind the wheel days later.

Accessing a vehicle should be exciting and empowering. It’s the beginning of a journey, and you get to decide where you’re going. Cars grant independence, but the traditional hassle involved in leasing or buying a car — not to mention the long-term debt — is antithetical to that freedom. 

Car subscription services free up every step in accessing mobility, giving you that “revving the engine” rush of possibility from the moment you begin your car experience. You’ll never again have to worry about sourcing a vehicle during a microchip shortage or handling title and registration paperwork. By taking care of the logistics, a car subscription makes accessing a car as freeing as turning the ignition. 

In a world where you can transfer funds, book a flight, and order groceries with the swipe of a finger, cars are finally catching up. Car subscription services absorb the onus of ownership, so you can get to the fun part: driving. 

Monthly electric car subscriptions foster sustainability

In meeting modern consumers’ demands for flexibility and ease of access, some monthly car subscription services are going the extra mile by offering their subscribers electric vehicles, marrying the convenience of a subscription service with the sustainability of clean energy. 

Today’s consumers are environmentally conscious, a trend that is especially taking root among Zoomers. As evidenced by the recent surge in thrifted fashion’s popularity, Zoomers are putting sustainability first by embracing the philosophy that when something is no longer useful to you, it can become useful to someone else. 

The old mantra to “reduce, reuse, recycle” is now baked into the zeitgeist, and limiting waste is top of mind for this new generation of consumers. A car subscription allows consumers to collectively maximize the value of each car by extending vehicles’ lifetimes beyond a single person’s use. When you don’t need it anymore, you simply hand it off to someone else.

From the dawn of the sharing economy to the rise in collaborative consumption, people are approaching their finances and purchases (or lack thereof) with a new mindset. They know it’s not about collecting burdensome possessions but rather about unlocking experiences. Car subscription services meet these new standards by providing flexibility, ease of access, and sustainability to the informed drivers of tomorrow. 

Picture of Joe Zappa

Joe Zappa

Joe writes about the business of technology. He's the founder of the tech business content studio Sharp Pen Media and has written articles for Forbes, AdWeek, AdExchanger, and Street Fight, where he's been managing editor since 2018.