Does a car subscription make more sense than buying, leasing?

Posted at 11:39 AM, Sep 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-05 12:59:35-04

When car subscription services rolled out a few years back there were questions: Who does this appeal to? Will the concept stick?

These days the idea doesn’t seem to be a concept anymore, more and more companies are joining the subscription car service space — that includes Mobiliti which rolled out last July.

While Mobiliti isn’t new, it’s quickly growing in size and accessibility. Based in metro Detroit, the vehicle subscription service has recently rolled out in other markets like Texas, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In Michigan there’s three pickup locations in Rochester Hills, Southfield (Tamaroff) and Clarkston (Bowman Chevrolet). According to the company’s co-founder, Chance Richie, more locations will be coming online as they expand their network with car dealers in metro Detroit.

What makes Mobiliti different than other services like ‘Book by Cadillac,’ and ‘Care by Volvo,’ is that you’re not tied to a specific manufacturer. Other services like Maven, a General Motors company, rolled out in 2016 with hourly rental rates. Mobiliti is a 30-day minimum car subscription service. That immediately makes it a viable option for snow birds who don’t want to bring a car back-and-forth and corporate clients, but because the service gives you one price that includes insurance, maintenance and roadside assistance they’re finding appeal to more people than you’d expect.

“We like to say we provide everything but the gas,” said Richie.

According to Richie, he came up with the idea because he found himself tiring of a car quicker than a lease expires. If you change vehicles too often you’re penalized. With Mobiliti you could change your vehicle every 30 days, or when the season changes.

“We’re wrapping up summer,” he said. “In Michigan nobody is going to be interested in driving a sports car, or convertible. You’re going to want to have that 4x4, that SUV, to get you through that Michigan winter.”

Himesh Pathmanathan, a Mobiliti user, told 7 Action News that he’d never had his own car before he began using Mobiliti. He lived in New York and didn’t need a vehicle, when his job landed him in Michigan he needed a quick solution. Originally he planned to use Mobiliti for a short amount of time, he’s still using it now while he considers buying a vehicle.

“Part of it was getting car insurance was tough,” said Pathmanathan. “At first when I was looking I wasn’t thinking subscription, so the fact that the price included subscription is great for me.”

For other customers like Pathmanathan, Mobiliti sells itself as a one-stop shop for all car-related needs. They’ve broken down the numbers of an average 36-month dealership lease for a Chevy Cruze to a cost of $569/month when you add up the down payment, the monthly payment, taxes, insurance costs and maintenance. They advertise that the same car through them would breakdown to $561/month — they estimate a traditional rental car service that specializes in short-term leases at a price of $883/month.

“It’s just a lot more flexible and convenient for lifestyle,” said Mobiliti COO Tarun Kajeepeta. “You don’t have to shop for insurance, you don’t have to deal with maintenance and all those things. It’s all bundled into one rate, and our feedback has been tremendous.”

The entire service is accessible through the Mobiliti app, available HERE for iPhone and HERE for Android users.

Once you download the app you can create a login which will require you to take a picture of your driver’s license so that Mobiliti can ensure you have a valid license. Once you’re expected into the system you’re free to shop for a car by make, model, or even trending cars — they even let you search by style, for example, you could look at all available coupes, or SUVs.