Hooniverse asked this question today. Besides being curious what Opponauts think, my reply was marked as spam by disqus (!!!) so I’m posting it here. If you don’t get a chance to read the original article (or know what a subscription service is): essentially you would pay a flat monthly fee and get the usage of a car manufacture’s vehicle. However, unlike a lease or buying, you have the option of switching for a different model from the same manufacturer while a member of the subscription service. Hooniverse uses the example of getting an X4 and, after realizing the error of your ways, switch to an M2. These are my thoughts:
I really like the subscription idea!! Currently plans are skewed as only high end luxury companies like Porsche offer them and are requiring thousands and thousands per month. With less premium brands I think it would work, though. It’s not much more than a lease, has maintenance covered, and you get to switch vehicles when you want? Sounds great to me! Even $600/mo for a Volvo doesn’t seem unreasonable. All the companies offer “attractively low” lease monthly payments, but almost always with a substantial chunk of money down and fairly strict mileage limits. For example: A base V60 ($40,590) is currently being advertised at $375/mo for 36 months but you’ll need to put down $3,555 upfront and are only given a 10k/year mileage allowance. And, of course, for any of these lease offers you’ll need immaculate credit to qualify in the first place...
I’d consider a reasonably priced plan with a company like Mazda (Subaru, Toyota, and even Nissan would probably be on the list, too) if they could keep the price point within the car payment/car payment plus insurance ballpark. $400-500 would be worth considering, and most certainly if it included insurance and maintenance. I currently own a 2013 370Z and love it, but the option to take a Versa or even Leaf for commuting on the weekdays, a fully loaded Maxima with leather and heated seats for the occasional long road trip, and/or a Frontier when hitting up Home Depot or the garden center is absolutely appealing. The Z is great, but can barely fit 2 people and a bag of groceries (not to mention a dismal 19 mpg premium while commuting, ugh...). Love the 6 speed manual, too, although not so much in stop-and-go. And then the fact that my wife can’t drive a stick shift... But it’s still a blast and I don’t want to lose it and have to settle for a Rogue or Sentra just because they make more practical sense in most situations. Life is too short to be stuck with bland cars.
Another good candidate for a subscription plan would be Mini with to its reputation for subpar reliability, and yet coupled with the BMW-esque repair costs. A JCW coupe for around town, Clubman for trips, and Countryman All4 for weekend journeys up the mountain would be a solid way to go.
Come to think of it, VW wouldn’t be a bad choice for a subscription, either.
Clearly the downside for a lot of people is that they’d rather OWN their car and stick with it for a significant time after paying it off. (Of course then you also have to deal with depreciation, maintenance, repairs, and eventually selling or trading it in.) But no one would HAVE to use a subscription service anyway, just like no one has to lease or finance a new car in the first place.
Tl;dr: This seems an upgrade to a lease in almost every way. It allows you to have the “responsible” car when you need it and the still get the “fun” car when you want. Not sure why there seems to be such opposition to it in the comments.