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Cox Automotive Evolution of Mobility Study

NEW ROADS: Weighing pros and cons of vehicle subscriptions – Part I

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Article Highlights

  1. Ask people in the auto industry what they think of car subscriptions, and you’re likely to get a range of answers as diverse as … well … the subscription platforms themselves.
  2. In the overall time continuum of the auto industry, subscriptions are at a very early point — even when compared to relatively young innovations like ride-hailing and car-sharing. In its study titled “Evolution of Mobility: A Shift Towards Alternative Ownership,” Cox Automotive shared a timeline detailing the respective advents of various types of automobile usage. And subscription is the youngest of the bunch.
  3. “Think of these as startups. There will be a lot of learnings along the way, how to better do things, maybe better places to do the business,” Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs said during an August conference call with reporters about the study.

Ask people in the auto industry what they think of car subscriptions, and you’re likely to get a range of answers as diverse as … well … the subscription platforms themselves.

Industry consultant Maryann Keller, for example, did not pull any punches when sharing her thoughts during a keynote address at the Automotive Intelligence Summit.

“To me, they make no sense,” Keller said at the event, which was held this summer in Raleigh, N.C.

Keller, who is the principal at Auto Intel Council-member Maryann Keller & Advisors, was referring to automakers’ subscription programs during this part of her presentation, though she would later share some reservations about dealer-based used-car programs, too.

She isn’t buying the notion that drivers would actually want to switch out of vehicles at a rate as quickly as a month or two.

“It would take me a month to figure out how to put the phone in the next car,” Keller said. “And by the time I haul all the junk that I carry in my car into the next car, you’d have probably (enough) time to get another turn on my subscription. But that’s me.

“I don’t think the auto companies have answered some fundamental questions,” she said.

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