The sands are shifting when it comes to car ownership but not so much in Australia yet. Ford came up with the novel ‘Ford Second Car’ program recently. A marketing tool that allows you to buy a Ford Ranger for example but have one or two weeks access to a Mustang annually. But it’s subscription services that are starting to make inroads, especially in the US. It’s a no strings attached way of having a car minus the usual ownerships costs.
BMW USA back in April started a program known as ‘Access’ in Nashville, Tennessee. The pilot program gives you access to a fleet of BMW models depending on what tier you go for, Legend or M. It’s not cheap but customers can drive at will a 4 Series, 5 Series, X5 xDrive 40e iPerformance or an M2. The Legend package would set you back around AUD$2600 a month.
If you like BMW’s performance line up then for AUD$4800 the world becomes your oyster with cars like an M4 Convertible, M5’s and M6’s and even the SUV M range at your disposal. They’re not alone either with Porsche, Volvo, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz all offering varying degrees of the same idea.
But here in Australia we’re yet to see any real innovation in this area from OEM’s. So, a company called Carbar that has been selling new and used cars online has created Carbar+. The rather catchy line of the ‘Netflix of cars’ has been used to describe the service, turns out that’s pretty close to the mark.
How It Works.
Currently the company sells new and used cars online. But as a point of difference they deliver the car for a three-day test drive, then you either buy or hand the keys back.
Carbar+ lets you ‘own’ a car on a month-to-month basis without the hassle of insurance, registration and servicing costs. The cars on offer are used cars but range from city hatchbacks to luxury European offerings. You can change your drive as much as you like, as long as you give two weeks notice.
EFTM asked Desmond Hang, CEO and co-founder of Carbar for his take on the program.
How is this subscription offering disrupting car ownership in Australia?
“There is a global trend that consumers are going towards non-ownership due to its flexibility, time and cost-efficiency. Right now, there are no options that allow Australians to drive a car without commitments and all the hassle associated. That’s why we thought our subscription model will solve that problem.”
What has the uptake been like so far?
“The service just launched, and we have around 50 subscribers are active at the moment.”
What are the key benefits of subscribing the car to owning one?
“Subscribing to a car provides you with the flexibility that ownership doesn’t have, and it’s resonated well with people that are not ready to commit to a car for more than three years. There are a lot of costs associated with ownership, such as insurance, roadside assist, finance interests etc – and even when you don’t drive your car, you still have to bare the standing costs like registration and depreciation. With our subscription package, you can enjoy a hassle-free, fully-managed concierge service where everything is taken care of for you.”
What kind of cars can you get?
“Our subscription packages currently range from $169 up to $600 per week, where with $169 you can get a small city hatch. Our popular range is $300-$400 and you can get a BMW 3 series or a Mercedes C-Class for instance.”
A quick search of the Carbar website reveals a large range to pick from. You could jump into a 2013 Honda Accord Euro with 42,019km on the clock for $239 a week or at the pointy end a 2012 Range Rover Sport with 116,000km for $469 a week.
They will deliver the car to you for free within a 50km radius of the Melbourne and Sydney CBD if you commit to a one-month subscription. The concept obviously appeals to a niche market, but when you do the sums it may well be worth having a look. Check out their website here.