New trend: Subscribe to transportation
Written by Morten Suhr Hansen
In the recent few months, I have been cruising around in a brand-new Peugeot 308. I picked up the car at the local car dealership in March last year, because my wants and needs changed. In June, after using the Peugeot 308 for approximately three months, I returned it without any hassle or problems. The car was neither purchased or leased. It was a subscription car from the Danish company, bilabonnement.dk. Bilabonnement.dk (which means carsubscription.dk) offers its customers the opportunity to subscribe to a car and get it delivered without any down payment. In addition, customers are able to unsubscribe at a month’s notice, after the first couple of months.
The monthly price is fixed (subscription style) and includes insurance as well as vehicle tax plus service, tires and everything else that comes with owning a car. I only had to pay for gas myself – aside from the price of the subscription, of course.
Both bilabonnement.dk and I are a part of a big global trend regarding the way we buy and consume transportation services, which is developing fast. The trend is called Mobility-as-a-Service (Maas) – or even sometimes known as Transportation-as-a-Service (TaaS). Instead of owning our means of transport, consumers would rather subscribe to them.
Today, there are already many MaaS-subscription concepts available. Bilabonnement.dk is far from the only player in the market. Recently, concepts such as ‘Access by BMW’ was launched, which goes even further in the attempt to create flexibility for its customers. With ‘Access by BMW’, you subscribe to a car – but not necessarily the same car. The app allows you to easily request your next vehicle, including when and where you would like the concierge service to deliver the vehicle. And if you’re not satisfied with the car – or just a little tired of driving the same car – you can just switch to a new vehicle from BMW, as often as you like.
Or perhaps you enjoy luxurious cars? Porsche has developed an all-inclusive subscription concept called ‘Porsche Passport’. With unlimited car swaps, you can drive a classic 911 Carrera Cabriolet during the summer and then switch to the Porsche Cayenne SUV in the fall.
If you live in Hamburg, London or Copenhagen (and other cities around Europe), you can become a member of DriveNow. DriveNow allows you to get access (via your mobile phone) to a wide selection of electric vehicles, which you can drive everywhere in the city. You can also sign up to BlaBlaCar, which is the world’s largest carpooling service available across Europe and in Mexico.
Mobility-as-a-Service does not only include easy access to cars but, in fact, transportation altogether. One example is the Dutch company, Swapfiets, which currently operates in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. The concept is simple. You rent a bicycle for a monthly fee and if it breaks, Swapfiets comes to you and fixes (or swaps) your bicycle. It’s that easy – and with the recognizable blue front wheel, you are a part of the Swap-family!
I could go on and on about all the MaaS-subscription concepts, as the phenomenon is prevailing across the world. But why are MaaS-concepts increasing in popularity just now? First of all, it’s due to consumers’ demand for convenience and flexibility. Secondly, ownership of material possessions is becoming less attractive. Especially younger generations are not preoccupied with owning possessions and it’s spreading faster than you may think – also to older generations. We want freedom. Being free from ownership. Being free from hassle and inconvenience. Being free to choose the right solutions, which suit our wants and needs here and now.
If you don’t understand this about the modern consumer, then you don’t stand a chance in the future. Not in the transportation industry, nor in other industries.
So, what are the consequences for future transportation solutions? Probably that we can expect to see even more MaaS-subscription concepts gain in popularity. Concepts which are even more flexible for consumers and probably concepts, which combine multiple modes of transport into one subscription service. In 10-15 years, when we drive in self-driving cars, it will almost certainly also be subscription-based.
I still remember the joy and excitement of buying my first car as a 20-year-old. However, this might be a joy that my children will never experience.