BMW Will Test Subscription Service in Nashville, Report Says

Several other automakers have already launched similar services.

byStephen Edelstein|
BMW Will Test Subscription Service in Nashville, Report Says

BMW is about to begin testing a car-subscription service in Tennessee, reports Automotive News. The service, reportedly called Access by BMW, will launch at a dealership in Nashville. This could make BMW the latest in a series of automakers to experiment with alternatives to traditional car buying and leasing.

Automotive News noted that BMW North American CEO Bernhard Kuhnt mentioned a subscription-service pilot at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. A BMW spokesperson told the industry trade journal that the automaker is planning such a pilot for 2018, but gave no further details.

Subscription services allow consumers to access a car when needed, and to switch between different types of vehicles depending on their needs at the moment. These services typically bundle costs like maintenance and insurance into one monthly fee. This makes said fee a bit higher than many purchase or lease payments, but paying for everything at once is a bit more convenient.

Several of BMW's rivals already offer subscription services. Audi, Cadillac, and Porsche all have their own services in certain U.S. markets. Volvo and Lexus are launching subscription services with their new XC40 and UX crossovers, respectively. Lincoln is expanding an existing service with lightly-used cars, under the aegis of parent Ford's Canvas program. Mercedes-Benz is expected to bring a subscription service to the U.S. this year as well.

Given the headaches consumers often experience when buying or leasing cars, it makes sense for automakers to offer an alternative. By increasing convenience, subscription services may also help automakers retain customers who might otherwise ditch their own cars in favor of ride-hailing services.