By James Raia
One potential inconvenience for RVers is determining if they’re going to need another vehicle while traveling. Not all cars are towable, and towable models and makes have different methods.
But if you need a vehicle at your RVing destination, there’s an increasingly popular, more convenient and possibly less expensive alternative to towing a car or renting a vehicle.
Much like health club memberships and movie-watching services, regional and national companies, including several carmakers, now allow consumers to subscribe to a car.
SIXT, the German-originated former rental-only car company, and T4L, Inc., both based in Florida, and manufacturers from BMW to Hyundai, are offering customizable car subscriptions. SIXT’s website includes a map pinpointing airport and city locations throughout the United States.
Subscribe to a car? AAA says yes
The American Automobile Association (AAA) also offers car subscriptions in selected states, including a test market fleet of all-electric Volkswagen E-Golfs in Sacramento, California.
“As auto customers continue to explore the growing mobility market, service-related offerings are becoming more in demand,” said Allen Witters, CEO of T4L. “Our members will enjoy easier vehicle access, a better overall dollar value, a hassle-free transportation experience, and best-in-class customer service.”
According to company president Sebastian Birkel of the venture technically called SIXT+, consumers have become more accustomed to subscription services.
“We see that mobility needs have changed, particularly during this pandemic,” said Birkel. “You have some people who say, ‘I would always prefer individual mobility over mass transit, but I may not want to go into a financial obligation for the next few years.”
Flexibility is the company’s unwritten motto.
“There are other people who say ‘I just need a car right now’,” said Birkel. “‘I don’t want to wait until it’s delivered or whatever.’ So we came up with the subscription idea.”
RVers staying at locations for at least a month acquire a car subscription.
Every subscription under the T4L Membership includes insurance, taxes and registration, vehicle swap, maintenance covering tires, brakes, batteries, wiper blades, vehicle refresh and software updates, supercharging, roadside service support and concierge priority service.
“We believe this is priceless to someone who is passionate about electric vehicles,” said Witters. “The trend is the result of consumers uncertain about a new purchase in uncertain times.”
“It just hasn’t lifted off in the car industry, yet,” he said. “I believe with cars it’s the same thing. I don’t know if people are aware, those who own a car, how often the car is parked and not being used. If you factor in all the total costs of ownership of a vehicle, you come to the conclusion that a subscription is actually, very, very cheap.”
SIXT’s debut into the car subscription marketplace arrives as the company, present in more than 110 countries, also announced a partnership with mobile transport provider Lyft.
In selected cities, SIXT customers can subscribe and reserve a vehicle via the Lyft app, with planned expansion throughout the country pending.
SIXT also recently acquired 10 airport locations vacated by the now-defunct rental car agency Advantage.
The subscribe model has also been introduced in other regions of the country, some catering to higher-end vehicles, others to the expanding EV industry.
Subscription car service companies are hoping for increased market shares, with consumers considering depreciation, dealer fees, interest rates, maintenance and other monetary and convenience factors.
Auto subscriptions are not only all-inclusive, consumers using vehicles only when they need them is environmentally savvy.
“It all adds up at the end of the day,” said Birkel. “I believe if you do such a subscription model and you just turn the car back when you don’t need it, you’ll be better off. And you will always have a fresh car.”
Every TL4 membership, with prices from its leading electric vehicle lineup, ranges from $600 to $2,270 per month. It’s an inclusive fee: Insurance, taxes and registration to vehicle swap. Full maintenance — tires, brakes, batteries, wiper blades, vehicle refresh and software updates, charging, roadside service support — are all included, and many more priority concierge services.
Prospective T4L members can build and request a vehicle. Once a vehicle has been configured and requested, a T4L concierge contacts the enrollee to provide membership, subscription, vehicle selection, deposit and delivery expectations detailed.
Vehicle delivery is expected within 90 days and arrives fully charged and with T4L new membership kit, and a membership app. For more information, visit https://t4l.me.
The SIXT+ service monthly fee ranges from $459 to $979 per month. Routine maintenance and various other service costs are included in plans with varied mileage allowance and protection packages. Vehicle exchanges are available for $49.
Customers can change to a new car or model category for $49 per swap. Changing categories will trigger a new price tier. This is a change from SIXT’s previous subscription service, SIXT Flat Nonstop, in which users choosing the SIXT Flat Seasons package could change vehicles by season.
Subscription cars will be provided through SIXT’s downtown locations that don’t carry the airport’s exorbitant facility fees and taxes. For more information, visit https:/sixt.com/plus.
The AAA’s car subscription service varies by state. For details, visit: AAA Car Subscription.
James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.