For whom is the temporary car worthwhile?

More and more things are available by subscription: groceries, razor blades, socks – and now even cars. The number of providers and users is increasing. The car subscription is particularly interesting for young drivers.

You can get your new car in just a few clicks. And if you add a few euros, the car can even be delivered to your home. This is possible with a car subscription, which, according to the latest figures, more and more customers are opting for.

There are good reasons for this, says Ferdinand Dudenhöffer from the Car Center in Duisburg: “The car subscription is simple, transparent and inexpensive for the customer.” For a fixed monthly price, users receive a new car including insurance, tax and workshop costs. Sometimes even a tire change is included in the price. You just have to refuel yourself.

“With the car subscription, the customer is relieved of the risk, which is what makes it so attractive,” says Dudenhöffer. Neither workshop costs nor rising insurance premiums would burden the driver. “The car subscription is certainly an offer with a future, whereas the number of classic car dealers will continue to decline,” says Dudenhöffer.



The difference to leasing

Renting instead of buying: This is also offered by leasing offers, but with different conditions. “A major advantage of the car subscription is the high level of flexibility, because the customer can usually choose between terms from one to three months and also change the car model,” says Thomas K. Hamann, a management consultant who specializes in car and mobility issues. Since the car is registered and insured by the provider, the customer has no running around or bureaucratic hurdles even when changing vehicles.

However, the conditions were sometimes very different. “Some providers have relatively low mileage limits compared to many leasing contracts, while others have restrictions on trips abroad. So you have to look carefully at what you want to do with the car, ”says Hamann. In addition, the customer has a limited choice of models: “Configuring a vehicle yourself is rarely possible with a car subscription. Here you use the model that is offered. “

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Why the subscription models are comparatively cheap

The limited model selection is also one reason why the comparatively favorable conditions are possible at all. “Overall, it’s a very slim product. For example, there are hardly any costs for the dealer, which are around ten percent with normal new car sales, ”says Dudenhöffer.

In addition, the providers would buy vehicles cheaply in the pool and sometimes access those that are available as storage vehicles at car dealers. Young used vehicles are also offered via subscription.

The increasing number of subscriptions – Dudenhöffer expects around 60,000 subscriptions in Germany in 2021 after around 40,000 in the previous year – also ensures a sharp increase in the number of providers: “There are currently 432 car subscription providers, which were in February there are still around 200. More and more manufacturers are also entering the market. “



Different providers, different conditions

A comparison between car subscription and leasing shows that the subscription performs particularly well with short terms. Hamann has determined a monthly price of 677 euros for a car subscription for a Volvo XC40 T5 Recharge compared to 424 euros for a 24-month lease. This leasing offer includes a discount of 13 percent.

At first glance, the car subscription seems to be around 250 euros more expensive. But: “Since in such a comparison the one-off costs such as vehicle provision, special leasing payment, winter wheels and the credit of the environmental bonus are allocated to monthly installments, the car subscription would be cheaper up to a usage period of 14 months,” Hamann has calculated.

In other words: In the specific example, the subscription model is cheaper up to 14 months of use. In addition, leasing would be cheaper, even if you only use this car for 14 months and leave it deregistered for the remaining ten months until the end of the lease.

However, there is no room for negotiation with the car subscription. As a rule, the motto “Take it or leave it” applies here. It must also be taken into account that there are also different costs with car subscription providers. For example, some charged some kind of start-up fee or costs for model changes during the term.



Young people can particularly benefit

According to Dudenhöffer, the car subscription is especially interesting for young drivers, as this variant is a quick way to get mobile: “For new drivers, the insurance premiums are usually very high and a new car is practically unaffordable.” The car subscription, on the other hand offer a low entry barrier. Most leasing and financing contracts, on the other hand, are often only possible from the age of 21.

“In purely mathematical terms, the subscription models can be particularly worthwhile for two types of customers: for young drivers with a low no-claims discount in vehicle insurance and for drivers who only want to use a vehicle for a short time,” says Gerrit Reichel from the Automobile Club Verkehr ( ACV). If you need a car quickly and easily, a subscription is certainly an interesting alternative.

Some car subscription providers such as Conqar also rent out to very young drivers from the age of 18, but then charge a surcharge of 19 euros per month. Conqar is part of the Fleetpool Group, which has operated mobility and car subscription offers through several brands such as Like2drive and Sonnendrive since 2008. Other providers are, for example, Vivelacar, Finnauto, Instadrive or Shell Recharge Auto Abo.

The idea behind the car subscription is to transfer the idea known from Netflix, Spotify and Co. “using instead of owning” into an all-inclusive subscription for the car, says Niels Reimann from Like2drive. Younger drivers in particular would use car subscription offers: “At Like2drive, most customers are between 25 and 45 years of age and predominantly male.” up to 13 months.

When it comes to the type of drive, electric cars are very much in vogue. Not least because of the strong increase in e-models, Reimann expects a significantly higher proportion of electrified car subscriptions. In particular, drivers who have not yet dared to use e-cars would have the opportunity to try out electromobility without a long-term commitment with short trial subscriptions or a six-month subscription.

In its report for June, the Car Institute lists subscription offers for e-cars at prices from 299 euros for a Smart Fourfour Electric (provider: Faaren). Shell Recharge customers pay 409 euros for a Peugeot E-2008 GT, and Finnauto offers a Polestar 2 for 838 euros a month.



What happens after the subscription ends?

If the car subscription expires, the customer usually has the option of extending it with or without changing the vehicle, or he can return the car. “The return is similar to the procedure for leasing: the vehicle is examined and any damage beyond signs of use is invoiced,” explains Thomas K. Hamann.

If the customer has driven more kilometers than agreed, an additional payment is also due, which, according to Hamann, is usually significantly higher than the comparable costs for leasing. dpa

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