BMW to Terminate Car Subscription Service January 31

Audi is also terminating its car subscription service at the end of the month.

BMW is terminating its Access by BMW car subscription service at the end of January, reports The Verge. Launched in April 2018, Access by BMW was an all-inclusive, two-tiered car subscription service which included access to select BMWs plus insurance, maintenance, taxes, car washes, detailing, personal delivery by a concierge, and roadside assistance. For $2,000 month, subscribers to the Legend tier could select a vehicle from BMW’s M2, 4 series, 5 Series or the X5. For $3,700 a month, subscribers to the M tier could select an M car, including the M4 convertible, M5, M6 convertible, X5M or X6M. Available only in Nashville, membership in the month-to-month pilot program also required a $575 one-time joining fee, though BMW waived the fee for the first 50 members in the program.

Auto maker optimistic at 2018 launch

At the time of launch Ian Smith, CEO of BMW Group Financial Services USA and Region Americas, touted the company’s car subscription service.

“As customers continue to explore the growing mobility market, service-related offerings are becoming more in demand. With Access by BMW, our members will enjoy the freedom of personal mobility with access across a broad range of our highly emotional vehicles,” said Smith in an April 4, 2018 news release. “Subscription-based services are of emerging interest for our customers, and we’re excited to be offering a mobility service to meet their individual and evolving needs.”

Smith also said that the pilot program would allow BMW to learn about their customers, BMW dealers, and how to develop the car subscription service model to meet and exceed its customers’ expectations.

Future of Access by BMW

A representative for BMW confirmed the termination of the program in an email to The Verge.

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“Unfortunately, the Access by BMW subscription program is sending on January 31st, and we are no longer taking new members,” the spokesperson said. “We are in the process of developing the next iteration of Access by BMW and will share more information with you as it becomes available.”

Audi to terminate car subscription service

Auto Blog reports that Audi is also terminating its Audi Select subscription service, available in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, at the end of January. Audi began exploring a car subscription service in 2018. Like Access by BMW, the Audi program is an all-inclusive subscription that includes insurance, maintenance, detailing, taxes, fees, roadside assistance, concierge service, SiriusXM Radio, as well as a complimentary two-day Silvercar rental service. Audi Select’s Core Collection (A4, Audi Q5, S3 and TT) starts at $995 a month; the Premier Collection (A6, S5 Coupe, Audi Q7, A5 Cabriolet, A4, Audi Q5, S3, and TT) starts at $1,495 a month.

Insider Take

This news does not come as a surprise. While auto makers wanted to become a part of the subscription economy, especially as younger drivers are less interested in ownership, the car subscription service model has really never taken hold. The idea of an all-inclusive price is attractive, but the prices for most of the auto subscription services are out of reach for many drivers. There is also the concern by auto dealers that they are being left out of the loop when auto makers want to develop relationships directly with drivers.

We saw this in California where Volvo got itself in trouble with the California New Car Dealers Association and the California New Motor Vehicle Board. The dealers’ association complained that Volvo was violating their franchise agreements by offering the subscription program. The association alleged the Care by Volvo program was an illegal marketing ploy because it was really a two-year lease, not a subscription. Volvo has agreed to revamp the program to appease California auto dealers.

We expect to see more auto makers withdraw or rework their car subscription services in 2021 to be more accessible to their target customers or to abandon their car subscriptions altogether. The subscription model works for many industries, but the car industry has not yet found a way to make them viable.