What Are Car Subscription Services?

An illustration of hands juggling different cars illustration by Paul Dolan

Car subscription services are services that allow consumers to pay a monthly subscription fee to use a variety of vehicles without having to actually own any of them. It’s similar to the idea of leasing a car, except usually subscription-service users aren’t limited to just one particular vehicle, and many services also cover costs like insurance and maintenance. Vehicles are usually delivered to subscribers and can be kept for a set period of time, or indefinitely, depending on the service. Mileage may also be restricted.

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These sorts of subscriptions can be offered directly by manufacturers or by third-party companies. Manufacturer services are typically more expensive but offer a greater range of amenities. There may also be tiers to the subscription service, giving consumers access to a wider range of vehicles (say, larger, more expensive or faster ones) for a greater price.

With manufacturer-based services, consumers are also often limited to one make of car (Jaguar and Land Rover share ownership). Typically, manufacturer-based services also cover vehicle maintenance and insurance, so while those costs may be baked into the subscription fee, consumers won’t have to keep up their own automotive insurance.

Manufacturer-based vehicle subscription services include:

Third-party services may offer vehicles from a variety of manufacturers, usually grouped into categories based on similar characteristics like vehicle body style, size, luxury or sportiness. These services also may or may not provide insurance coverage as part of the subscription, so be certain that you’re covered before driving, whether by your own insurance or through the subscription service. Unlike manufacturer services, the vehicles offered by third-party services might not be new cars, either.

Third-party vehicle subscription services include:

All of these services may or may not be geographically limited, too, so depending on where you live, you may not have access to them. Large cities in the U.S. are more likely to be covered.

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