What is a Car Subscription? The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

We live in an age where convenience reigns supreme.

Whether listening to ad-free music or scheduling a pet food delivery to arrive on our doorstep the day before Fido runs out of his favorite nuggets—we are constantly seeking ways to make our lives easier and more productive.

Over the past few years, a lesser-known (but growing) area of opportunity for subscription services has emerged within one of the world’s largest economic sectors: the auto industry.

If you want to learn about ways to modernize your driving habits and ditch the dealership once-and-for-all, read on and discover how the car subscription model is poised to change the landscape of the auto industry.

What is a car subscription service?

A car subscription service is an alternative to buying, leasing or renting a car.  Subscriptions allow a customer to pay a flat fee in order to access a variety of vehicles without retaining ownership.

In most instances, members of a car subscription service pay one, transparent fee that may include the use of a vehicle coupled with a wide range of services such as insurance, maintenance and repairs, unlimited miles and roadside assistance. Some subscription services are offered directly by the automaker, which affords the subscriber access to one brand. Other third-party providers offer subscribers access to a wide-ranging fleet of vehicles, featuring a variety of brands.

Car subscriptions allow members the freedom to test-drive a variety of vehicles at their leisure. By offering members the opportunity to exchange their current vehicle for another model in the fleet at any point in time, the customer is afforded the unique opportunity to design a customized experience in a convenient, hassle-free and competitively priced manner.  While service offerings range based on provider, some subscription companies even offer door-to-door concierge services that deliver the vehicle directly to the customer.

Finally, as with any subscription model, members can cancel or pause their membership at any point in time. While terms and conditions range, the subscription model’s value proposition remains: no long-term commitment and no hidden fees.

All-Inclusive Pricing Structure

Let’s dive into the pricing commitments and (non-hidden) fees.

To reiterate: when a customer joins a car subscription service, they don’t actually commit to owning a vehicle. What they do commit to is paying a month-to-month, all-inclusive fee that gives them access to a fleet of vehicles and a number of additional services such as insurance, roadside assistance, charging (for EVs and hybrids), maintenance and repairs—the list goes on. Approved drivers are typically covered by the car subscription company’s insurance policy, and members may be responsible for a deductible for any major accident. Members also avoid down payments and registration and titling fees but may have to pay a one-time activation charge, depending on the contract’s terms.

Most car subscription services available in today’s market have “tiered” membership levels or subscription packages, offering the customer access to varying levels of service. These options typically range from the basic, economy level experience that includes access to a certain fleet of vehicles with a limited number of vehicle swaps, to the premium-level experience featuring a fleet of luxury vehicles, unlimited swaps and a concierge-level of service. Cost structures will vary from tier-to-tier, and subscribers usually have the ability to modify their subscription plan at any point in time to suit their needs.

At first glance, a bundled fee may seem high to a car owner who is conditioned to paying vehicle-related fees on an itemized basis. Sometimes it is difficult to process the thought of an “all-in” cost when it comes to a vehicle. However, depending on the type of vehicles the member is interested in driving coupled with registration, titling, and ongoing insurance and monthly payments and more, a car subscription is competitively priced when compared to buying, leasing or renting a vehicle in today’s economy.

As with most renting and leasing contracts, members often have the option to add a secondary driver at no extra cost, as long as that driver meets the same criteria as the primary driver. Application processes are quicker and more direct, however, as subscribers are given the option to apply for the service conveniently from a mobile app or website, as opposed to visiting a dealership to complete paperwork in person.

For those looking to squeeze even more value out of their car subscription plan, many providers offer referral programs to existing members, which may feature plan discounts or monetary rewards when the lead is converted into a new member.

Avoid Outdated Trends and Technology

Did you know that the average American will retain his or her vehicle for 10-12 years? 

When you consider the rapid advancements in automotive technology (think: improved safety features, longer-range batteries and self-driving capabilities to cite a few examples), committing to one car can become a serious disadvantage for the modern driver. Imagine if you had to hold on to your current smartphone for the next 10 years! It is almost unthinkable.

A car subscription gives drivers access to the latest auto trends and technology and eliminates the fear of buyer’s remorse.  Subscription companies feature the newest models and the latest technology in an effort to maintain interest and build a strong and reliable customer base. In order to provide a top-tier experience for their customers, they must maintain a modern fleet of vehicles with a variety of options to fit the needs of the modern, tech-savvy consumer.

It also goes without saying, but no matter how much you research a car prior to buying it, nothing compares to the physical experience of driving it. The grooves of the steering wheel, the sleekness of the dashboard—it takes weeks, if not months, to truly understand what we love (or don’t love) about a vehicle. But preferences change over time, and what may be considered sleek and ‘on trend’ one minute can swiftly be replaced and leave many consumers feeling remorseful about their purchasing decision.

Car subscription plans allow members to learn the ins and outs of multiple vehicles and ensure that the vehicle that they are driving suits their lifestyle in real-time.

Goodbye, Depreciation (hello, appreciation!)

Car depreciation is the monetary toll that a number of factors (such as age and mileage) can take on a car’s value. In short, it’s the value of the vehicle that will be lost over time.

According to CarFax, the value of a new vehicle can drop by more than 20% in the first 12-months of ownership. Then, for the next four years, it is expected to depreciate 10% annually. In an effort to curb depreciation, car owners will follow a number of steps to keep their vehicles in tip-top shape, such as purchasing additional insurance and limiting mileage. Sadly, however, there are limits to the effectiveness of these practices.

Fortunately for car subscribers, factors like age and mileage are an issue of the past. In fact, members have the luxury of avoiding the stress of depreciation entirely.

Hassle-Free Sign-Up Process

According to Beepi Consumer Automotive Index, 87% of Americans dislike something about car shopping at dealerships, and 61% feel they’re taken advantage of while there. Unsurprisingly, the experience is considered even worse from the perspective of Millennials, with 56% saying they’d rather clean their homes than negotiate with a car dealer.

No matter how you view the car buying process, it is safe to say that car subscription services tend to offer reduced stress from the perspective of the customer due to its easy, hassle-free sign-up process.

The primary benefit is that the customer has the ability to apply for membership from the comfort of their own home. There is no haggling, no time wasted at the dealership and no script to memorize before talking to a car sales representative.  The prices are already negotiated, the fuel economy is already memorized and the car history is, well, less important since members are paying to drive the latest and greatest models.

Subscription providers are also aware that new drivers will want to be educated about what, exactly they are driving. The value proposition still needs to be conveyed even if the member doesn’t own the vehicle they are driving.

This is why many car subscription plans include access to a concierge service, which will provide educational materials and even personalized car drop-offs with pamphlets and information about the car before leaving it with the member. These concierge services range in style and scope based on the subscription service provider, but 24/7 access to a personalized resource to answer any and all questions is a definitive perk.

What else do I need to know?

By this point, you are well-versed in the basic benefits of a car subscription service. If you are ready to sell your vehicle or end your lease, there are a number of automakers and third-party providers in the market who are testing this business model within a number of markets within the United States.

13 Longest-Range Electric Cars on the Market for 2020

Electric vehicles (EVs) continue to trend toward mass adoption as we approach 2020. Every automotive brand is strategically positioning themselves to be major players in the EV market and transitioning away from gas-powered cars. Predicted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “20 years from now, more than half of new cars sold will be electric.” 

This might seem far away for a lot of people, but considering the history of the automotive industry and its standard for gas-powered cars, this change is a revolution and it’s coming fast. That said, there are still some hurdles that EV makers will need to overcome. 

Electric cars are amazing in most ways, but the one major concern with electric car ownership that comes up over and over again is…

Will these cars run out of power as I’m driving?!

Finding available charging stations is a consideration and you can’t take your in-home charger on long trips. Simply put, range and distance with electric cars can be tricky. However, and this is important, the current market has made vast improvements in terms of long and sufficient battery range. Most EVs now average around 200 miles per charge and this number will only continue to improve. 

But what about the road trip you want to take next weekend? Meet the best long-range electric cars on the market today. These cars are available for you now and most are even in the Steer fleet. 

If you are determined to take a long trip in an electric car, here is a list of the longest-range electric cars on the market for 2020:

  1. Tesla Model S
  2. Tesla Model X
  3. Tesla Model 3
  4. Chevrolet Bolt
  5. Hyundai Kona Electric
  6. Kia Soul EV
  7. Kia Niro EV
  8. Jaguar I-PACE
  9. Nissan LEAF
  10. Audi e-tron
  11. BMW i3
  12. Volkswagen e-Golf
  13. Hyundai Ioniq EV

 

1. Tesla Model S

tesla-models

The best electric car available on the market today also has the longest driving range. The Tesla Model S is the standard for all-electric cars. It’s luxury and innovation all packed into one cool vehicle. The Model S has three battery options that offer different driving ranges; the 75D, 100D and the P100D.  The 100D offers the longest range at a staggering 370 miles. You can drive the Model S for days without ever having to recharge it. 

Range: 370 Miles

Retail Price: $75,000-$90,000

Charge Time (Level 2): up to 14 hours

Gas Savings: $1,000 +

Additional Features: Autopilot, 17-inch LED screen, Software updates 

 

2. Tesla Model X

tesla-modelx

All Teslas provide great long-range driving, but what makes the Tesla Model X unique is that it’s a crossover vehicle (meaning the body and frame are one piece) and offers a better range than most other electric vehicles. The 7-passenger Tesla Model X provides the most range in its 100D battery package with an impressive 325 miles. Remember, this is a mid-size vehicle providing more distance than most sedans. 

Range: 325 Miles

Retail Price: $88,000-$100,000

Charge Time (Level 2): up to 13 hours

Gas Savings: $1,200 +

Additional Features: Autopilot, Software updates, All-wheel-drive, up to 7 passenger seating

 

3. Tesla Model 3 

tesla-model3

Let’s be honest, you knew the Tesla Model 3 was going to be next on this list. Even Tesla’s most affordable car has a further range than more expensive electric vehicles. The Model 3’s premium range package offers 310 miles per charge. As the smallest and least expensive of the Teslas, the Model 3 has hit a sweet spot in the market and is still considered a hi-tech luxury car and provides all the benefits of driving a Tesla.

Range: 310 Miles

Price: $40,000-$50,000

Charge Time (Level 2): up to 13 hours

Gas Savings: $1,000 +

Additional Features: Autopilot, 15-inch LED screen, Software updates

 

4. Chevrolet Bolt

chevy-bolt

The Chevy Bolt is a fun drive and is comparable to some of the best electric cars out there, but for a better price. It delivers on some of the best safety and technology features and new upgrades will increase its driving range to an impressive 259 miles and advanced charging even in cold weather.  

Range: 259 Miles

Retail Price: $36,000-$40,000

Charge Time (Level 2): 10 hours

Gas Savings: $1,100 +

Additional Features: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Range Analytics

 

5. Hyundai Kona Electric

hyundai-kona

 The Hyundai Kona Electric is a great option for an affordable long-range electric car. It offers some of the best distance for electric cars on the market not named Tesla. At an estimated 258 miles per charge, the Hyundai Kona offers more range than EV’s similar in price. With a lot of trunk space and important safety features, this SUV is great for long trips with family.

Range: 258 Miles

Retail Price: $30,000-$36,000

Charge Time (Level 2): 10 hours

Gas Savings: $1,300 +

Additional Features: Smartphone connectivity, Cargo space

 

6. Kia Soul EV

kia-soul

With its tall and boxy shape, the Kia Soul has a unique look and offers a ton of space for passengers. The current model provides just 111 miles of range on a single charge, but the new redesigned 2020 Kia Soul will have an improved battery that gives it an impressive 243 miles. This will easily put it at the top of the list of the longest-range electric cars in the market today.  

Range: 243 Miles

Retail Price: $35,000-$40,000

Charge Time: 9.5 hours

Gas Savings: $1,000 +

Additional Features: Bluetooth wireless technology, Cargo Space

 

7. Kia Niro EV

kia-niro

The Kia Niro is a nice five-passenger ride for anyone looking for a little bit of extra space in their vehicle and fast charging. It has a stylish exterior and several driver assistance features. The battery can be recharged in about half-hour when plugged into a DC fast charger and has a great 239 miles per charge. 

Range: 239 Miles

Retail Price: $31,000-$38,500

Charge Time (Level 2): 9.5 hours

Gas Savings: $1,000 +

Additional Features: Smartphone connectivity, Driver assistance

 

8. Jaguar I-PACE

jaguar-ipace

The I-PACE is Jaguars first jump into EV’s and it truly delivers. The car lives up to the Jaguar brand from an aesthetic and technical standard. As a crossover, it has impressive all-wheel drive and amazing torque. The I-PACE also offers 234 miles per charge, but this driving-range can be used up quickly if the car is pushed to its limits. 

Range: 234 Miles

Retail Price: $62,000-$70,00

Charge Time (Level 2): 10 hours

Gas Savings: $1,100 +

Additional Features: All-wheel drive, Crossover, Advanced torque

 

9. Nissan LEAF

nissan-leaf

The Nissan LEAF continues to be an innovator in the EV market. Its affordable price and exceptional driving range make it one of the best electric cars on the market. The new 2020 Plus gets a few upgrades including a larger eight-inch touchscreen, but the most important change is the 226 mile range upgrade which makes this car great for daily use and long trips. 

Range: 226 Miles

Retail Price: $29,000-$37,000

Charge Time (Level 2): 9 hours

Gas Savings: $1,100 +

Additional Features: 8-inch touchscreen, Rear door alert

 

10.  Audi e-tron

audi-etron

Considering both the interior and exterior, the Audi e-tron is simply a beautiful car. It includes some great features like three new 12.3-inch digital displays, all-wheel drive, and superb safety technology. It handles like a sport-sedan which also makes it fun to drive. This luxury performance car has exceptional engineering and offers 204 miles per charge.

Range: 204 Miles

Retail Price: $67,000-$74,800

Charge Time (Level 2): 8 hours

Gas Savings: $1,200 +

Additional Features: Three displays-12.3 in., All-wheel drive

 

11. BMW i3

bmw-i3

If you’re looking for a fast, performance-oriented car, the BMW i3 is what you want. It fills a gap in the electric car market while also being at a low price point. This car is unique because of its many hidden benefits including our favorite, instant acceleration. This allows the driver to achieve 0-60 miles/hr in under just 7 secs. The i3’s new battery option extends its range significantly, but it’s still under 200 miles per charge. This is the EV for you if you’re looking for a fast car with a decently long range.

Range: 153 Miles

Retail Price: $36,000-$44,000

Charge Time: 7-8 hours

Gas Savings: $1,000 + 

Additional Features: Instant acceleration, Rear-wheel drive

 

12. Volkswagen e-Golf

volks-egolf

The fully-electric e-Golf possesses all the benefits you could ever want in an electric vehicle. This car features spacious seats and a roomy cabin. It’s a surprisingly pleasant ride for anyone looking for an affordable electric car but would still like a smooth ride. At 125 miles, it has less range than other cars on this list but is still a great overall EV option.  

Range: 125 Miles

Retail Price: $25,000-$30,500

Charge Time (Level 2): 6 hours

Gas Savings: $1,100 + 

Additional Features: Hatchback, Park assist

 

13. Hyundai Ioniq EV

hyundai-ioniq

Hyundai has put a lot of emphasis on being a leader in the EV market. It’s aiming to be the second-largest producer of electric cars by 2020, and the Hyundai Ioniq will certainly help the company get there. This car can’t compete with the others on this list in terms of range or features, but it still has a lot to offer. It averages around 124 miles per charge and is packed with technology including automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. 

Range: 124 Miles

Retail Price: $22,000-$30,000

Charge Time (Level 2): 6 hours

Gas Savings: $1,100 + 

Additional Features: Pedestrian detection, 8-inch color touchscreen display

 

Well, there it is! This is the full list of the longest-range electric cars available on the market today. As EVs continue to become more and more popular, it will be important that automotive brands improve on range stability, in the meantime, these long-range vehicles will get you wherever you need to go.

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