BMW is trialling a new subscription model with a flat monthly fee, aimed at letting drivers constantly trade up to new rides.
The app-based service – which is being tested in Nashville, Tennessee from this week – provides members with unlimited access to a fleet of BMWs for a set monthly fee.
This ranges from US$2,000 per month for top-selling models like the X5 SUV and 5 Series sedan (and plug-in hybrid versions of both) to a US$3,700 'M' tier which puts drivers behind the wheels of sports cars like the M5, which retails for more than US$100,000.
"The reason why we went with the upper tier, especially the ‘M’ tier, is we think we can learn an awful lot more with that clientele,” said Ian Smith, Chief Executive Officer of BMW Group Financial Services in the Americas, which is running the pilot.
“This is about learning and ensuring with our dealer partners that we’re building a business model that’s sustainable for the longer term and not something that’s going to be a fad for this year.”
The Access by BMW pilot follows in the footsteps of Porsche, which launched a pilot last October that combines lease, insurance and maintenance into one monthly payment.
By allowing subscribers to swap cars with the push of a button, BMW is trying to appeal to consumers whose shopping and transportation habits have been shaped by Silicon Valley giants like Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc.
The US$3,700 price tag for the top tier is nearly three times the cost of the monthly lease payments on a 2018 M5 sedan in the Nashville area – though a lease requires a total upfront payment of US $5,724. The monthly subscription price also includes vehicle maintenance, insurance and roadside assistance.
If the Nashville pilot proves successful, BMW would launch a third, less expensive tier to broaden access to the service, Smith said.