Why Buy an Audi When You Can Subscribe to One?
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Once upon a time, we purchased albums. Now, we subscribe to them. The same is true for a multitude of things, from movies (Netflix) to shipping (Amazon Prime) to digital storage (Google Drive). Even one's smartphone can now be subscribed to courtesy of schemes like Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program. While subscription-based flying has (mostly) been reserved for private and charter services, subscription-based car ownership is apt to catch on far more quickly with the masses.
As urban dwellers ponder the choice between maintaining, insuring and storing a massive depreciating asset with four tires and a steering wheel, or simply relying on a combination of public transit and ride-sharing, automakers are hustling to introduce a third option: subscriptions. Mind you, this is quite different than leasing. In a lease, you still own the responsibility of the car. It's yours to maintain, to insure and to return in solid condition years from now with less than a pre-determined quantity of miles.
Subscribing to a car is an entirely different animal, and it could be exactly the scheme needed for families looking to add more road trips into their lives. Audi is the latest brand to pilot a vehicle subscription service with Audi Select. Per Automotive News, the program is being tested in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at five dealerships, enabling customers to fork over $1,395 per month for access to "an A4 sedan, A5 convertible, S5 coupe or Q5 or Q7 crossover, subject to availability."
Crucially, subscribers can swap vehicles up to two times per month, can hold any single vehicle for up to six months and won't have to spend extra on taxes, maintenance and insurance. (Yeah, you're still responsible for fuel, but there's no mileage limit.) Sweetening the deal further, members will receive 24/7 roadside assistance and up to 24 days of Silvercar rentals annually "in 24 US markets including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and Denver."
While that's a tidy sum to pay for those vehicles, it becomes somewhat more sensible when you consider the burden that is shifted back to the automaker. In a sense, it splits the difference between a day-to-day rental and a lease, and allows for a lot more flexibility. In summer months, the A5 drop-top would be lovely. During Thanksgiving, swapping out for a Q7 to shuttle the grandparents around would make a lot of sense.
If all goes well, Audi Select may expand outside of Dallas later this year. We've reached out to inquire as to whether or not the monthly subscription fee can be paid via credit card, and will report back if and when we hear back. If so, it's likely that one could score 3x points on that spend through cards with generous definitions of travel such as the Citi Premier® Card, which is currently offering a best-ever sign-up bonus of 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.
Would you consider subscribing to a car? Let us know in comments below, and join the conversations in the TPG Lounge on Facebook!