How does a new Porsche every month sound? What about leasing a new Tesla for just a few months? Car subscription services offer premium vehicles for a monthly fee without committing to a lease or getting stuck with a long-term rental. They include insurance, maintenance, fees and even the freedom to swap cars.
If a car subscription sounds expensive, it is. In the past five years, no fewer than 10 automakers started and quietly shut down their subscriptions. Several startups came and went. The math didn’t add up for most car-shoppers. Starting a subscription, some of which crested more than $1,000 per month, became cost-prohibitive in a matter of weeks when compared to leasing. The automakers (Ford, Lincoln, Lexus, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi) couldn’t grow them beyond a few select cities due to lack of customer demand and the limited capacity of their vendors that were managing the vehicle fleets and the services. Car buyers have chosen to finance and lease, just like always.
That doesn’t mean subscriptions are totally dead. Only Porsche and Volvo continue to offer factory subscriptions. Porsche has the allure of coveted and highly valuable sports cars, while Volvo keeps prices and terms comparable to its leases. A few startups and major rental companies are still in the business with competitive terms.
Car Subscription vs. Leasing: What’s the Difference?
Leasing has grown in popularity over the last few decades for several reasons. Although it generally requires a down payment, the monthly payment is usually lower compared with financing the same vehicle through conventional means. Leasing also is an attractive option for drivers uninterested in entering a long-term loan agreement. The terms are typically shorter in duration and allow drivers to move into a new vehicle every few years while sidestepping the hassle of selling or trading their current vehicle. The downside is that the lessee is on the hook for insurance, maintenance and repairs for the duration of the lease.
A car subscription service is similar to a lease only in the sense that there’s no personal ownership, but terms are generally far shorter and more flexible. Insurance and maintenance costs also are included. For those who hate commitment and are willing to pay more for the associated perks, a car subscription is worth considering.
Which Automakers Offer Car Subscription Services?
From the Macan SUV to the almighty 911 sports car, this is a great way to experience one or several of Stuttgart’s best cars. Unsurprisingly, Porsche‘s program is very pricey. But the loans are flexible from just one day to an entire month, and subscribers can keep a single car for up to three months at a time. The electric Taycan (in base and 4S trims) is available but charging is extra, even at the Volkswagen-funded Electrify America stations.
Locations: Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Irvine, Los Angeles, Louisville, Monterey, Nashville, Paramus, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose
Cars: 911, Boxster, Cayenne, Cayman, Macan, Panamera, Taycan
Price: Single-Vehicle Subscription for one or three months from $2,000 to $3,200 per month; Multi-Vehicle Subscription at $3,600 per month (plus tax); Daily rentals between $245 to $395 a day ($2,500 security deposit required)
Activation: $595 (waived only for the three-month single-vehicle plan)
Restrictions: Age 21+, 1500 to 2,000 miles/month (subscriptions); Age 27+, driver’s license holder for five years, 200 miles/day (daily rentals)
Care by Volvo
Volvo’s subscription service is technically a 24-month lease that includes full insurance, maintenance and other add-on insurance items like tire and wheel protection. Volvo also waives $1,000 in excess wear charges when turning in the car. However, swapping to another car is available after five months (or 12 months in Illinois). At the end of the agreement, subscribers can purchase the vehicle at a preset price, just like a lease. But unlike other services, the monthly prices reflect only a starting point—they vary with the exact car and don’t include tax.
Locations: Anywhere except CA and NY
Cars: By request only through a Volvo dealer
Price: By request only through a Volvo dealer
Restrictions: 15,000 miles/year
What Rental or Leasing Companies Offer Car Subscription Services?
Autonomy is a third-party Tesla leasing company based in Santa Monica. Customers specify their down payment and monthly payments, which are then valid for 18, 24, 30 or 36 months. Unlike a lease, Autonomy won’t charge an early termination fee or make the lessee buy out the lease contract. The quoted prices here don’t include insurance, which is calculated and included for customers during purchase.
Locations: California, Florida, Texas, Washington
Cars: Tesla Model 3
Price: Varies. Smallest monthly payment is $390/month for 18 months with the highest down payment of $6100. Largest monthly payment is $1,000/month for 36 months with the smallest down payment of $1000.
Activation: $500 security deposit plus variable down payment (minimum $1,000)
Restrictions: No swap, 1,000 miles per car per month, one-month (31-day) minimum and two-week notice for cancellation, credit check
Subscribe With Enterprise
This program allows you to comb through most of the Enterprise fleet. Since this is a traditional rental company, in most cases, you cannot book the exact model in a given segment.
Locations: Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada
- Compact, Intermediate and Standard SUVs (Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Kona, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder or similar)
- Full-Size and Premium Sedans (Nissan Altima, Chevy Impala, Toyota Camry, Chrysler 300 or similar);
- Standard and Full-Size Pickup Trucks (Chevy Colorado, Nissan Frontier, Dodge Ram 1500, Ford F150 or similar)
- In Georgia only: Luxury Sedans and SUVs (BMW 3 Series, Infiniti Q50, Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLA 250, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC 300, Audi Q5) and Luxury Elite SUVs (Land Rover Discovery, Jaguar F-Pace, Audi Q7, Infiniti QX80, Cadillac Escalade)
Restrictions: 3,000 miles/month, four swaps per month within the same state, two-month minimum, refueling penalty, in-store pickup/return only, 25+ years old, exact car not guaranteed
Finn started offering subscriptions in Germany and currently serves the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. Prices are very competitive to a traditional lease and in some cases work out to significant savings with all included fees, especially for expensive pickup trucks and SUVs. There is no down payment, security deposit or activation fee. The mileage limit is lower than other services, though Finn offers up to 1500 miles for an added fee. Subscriptions are as short as six months and as long as a year. Swaps aren’t allowed.
Locations: Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia
Cars: Cadillac XT6, Chevrolet Blazer, Chevrolet Traverse, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Nissan Pathfinder, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Wagoneer L, Ram 1500, Tesla Model 3, Volkswagen ID.4
Price: $579/month to $1,159/month (varies by location and available cars)
Activation: None ($200 pickup fee at contract end)
Restrictions: 850 miles/month, six-month minimum, 25+ years old, credit check and score of 640, clean driving record, Finn logo cannot be removed from rear window
Sixt+, part of the German rental company that specializes in luxury cars, has the most high-end, desirable cars of any subscription service outside Porsche Drive. It’s especially valuable if you’re in a major metro area and need a late-model car for a month or longer.
Locations: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and various cities in California, Miami and multiple cities in Florida, Honolulu, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle
- Sedan (Nissan Sentra, Mini Countryman, Kia Forte, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat, Nissan Altima or similar)
- Premium Coupe (BMW 4 Series)
- Premium Sedan (BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, BMW 3 Series, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Infiniti Q50, Volvo S60, Volvo S90, Tesla Model 3)
- Multiseater (Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna or similar)
- SUV (Chevrolet Blazer, Chevrolet Traverse, Volkswagen Atlas, GMC Acadia, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner); Premium SUV (BMW X1, BMW X2, BMW X3, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q5, Audi Q8, Cadillac XT6, Ford Bronco Sport, Mazda CX-5, Volvo XC60, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL, Toyota Sequoia, Toyota RAV4 or similar)
Price: $649/month to $1,269/month
Activation: $99, $199 or $259 (depending on car class)
Restrictions: 21+ years old (18+ in New York; additional fee for certain vehicles and drivers under 25), one swap per month, one-month minimum, no delivery, mileage restriction varies by car, security deposit required, exact car not guaranteed.