Car sharing parking lot in Munich: auto parts are trendy
Photo: dvoevnore / iStockphoto / Getty Images
Temporary car ownership - unbureaucratic, risk-free, flexible: this is what car subscriptions promise, and it is popular with more and more people.
42,000 new car subscriptions were concluded in Germany last year, according to the Center Automotive Research in Duisburg.
Now the idea of driving a car at a fixed monthly price could get a further boost.
The car subscription start-up ViveLaCar, founded in 2019, presented a new approach that combines subscription and sharing at the IAA Mobility in Munich.
“ViveLaCar One” is the name of the offer, and one wonders why such an idea has so far not really caught on.
Up to three households share a vehicle, that is the car sharing element.
The car itself is taken over by subscription.
For each of the participants in a monthly variable kilometer package, according to which the monthly fixed price for each participant is based.
Sounds simple, but as is so often the case with sharing, it's all about the details.
The trio that share a car subscription should live close to each other (because otherwise the walk to the car will be too long), have different usage preferences (so that everyone does not constantly use the car at the same time) and have a more pronounced sense of tolerance (thus not every piece of chewing gum or crumb left on the seat leads to an argument).
When things go well, car density drops
As for the money - usually a reliable source for all kinds of quarrels - the subscription provider has taken precautions: All running costs (registration, insurance, tax, inspection, repairs and, for the first time, fuel) are included in the fixed price.
The entire organization runs through an app.
So everyone can see at any time how they are doing financially in the three-party alliance.
The offer will initially start in Stuttgart, Cologne and Berlin in the coming weeks.
More cities are to follow in spring 2022.
The whole point, of course, is to drive a car as cheaply as possible.
In a model that you have chosen with two others and use together.
Even the general public could benefit.
ViveLaCar postulates that the number of useless cars standing around in cities could be significantly reduced.
The company has calculated that 25,000 cars could disappear from the streetscape in Cologne alone with joint subscriptions.
But the questions are: Are so many people really willing to share a car with two friends or acquaintances?
Can the principle of »one car for three households« even work?
How expensive is a shared car subscription?
When it comes to the answer, the price will also be the most important factor.
An example: With »ViveLaCar One« there is a Mini Cooper with 1500 free kilometers per month for 735 euros per month on subscription.
Three households can freely share these kilometers among themselves.
For example, household A books 500 kilometers, household B wants 200 kilometers and household C books 800 kilometers.
The costs are then divided up to the exact kilometer: In the example, household A pays 245 euros, household B pays 98 euros and household C pays 392 euros.
Kilometers not driven will be credited for the following month.
The kilometer package and the distribution among each other can also be constantly varied on a monthly basis.
For comparison: With subscription competitor Finn Auto, a Mini Countryman with a one-year contract term with 1000 free kilometers per month costs 559 euros per month.
And unlike with the shared car subscription, fuel is not included in this case.
This shows that you can save money with a three-person car.
Cost control via app
The app also calculates the costs, functions as a booking system and knows the location of the car.
It is also used to unlock the car, the key is in the glove compartment.
Basically, this three-subscription model is reminiscent of car sharing, as operated, among other things, by the free-floating service Share Now.
However, with two major differences.
First: The users at ViveLaCar know each other, so they should be careful with their cars.
Second: In contrast to sharing, you actually own the car.
The baby seat or sunglasses can therefore be left in the car.
Less costs, fewer cars?
In theory, the new subscription offer sounds convincing.
But what if in practice it leads to people who have not yet had their own car now subscribing to one in the Dreierbund?
After all, the cheaper it is, the more attractive it is to use a car.
It remains to be seen whether a shared car subscription will lead to the abolition of two private cars or to new car users and thus even more car traffic.
Studies on other car sharing offers come up with different answers to the question of whether car sharing reduces traffic - or possibly increases it.
The idea of organizing private car sharing via an app is not new.
However, it has never been implemented really simply and suitable for everyday use.
For example, nothing more can be heard from an offer called Cocar.
Ex-Tesla Germany man Alan Atzberger contributed to this, it should work in a similar way to that of ViveLaCar.
The car can be rented out with other platforms
In other systems, the aim has so far mostly been to pass on the existing private car in a profitable way while you do not need it yourself.
The Chinese manufacturer Lynk & Co. announced on its website that it will soon be making a sharing app available for the Lynk & Co. community.
Companies such as Getaround or Snappcar also offer something similar, where members can use an app to rent out their private car to other members of the community at certain times and prices.
There are also app developers such as Moqo or Fleetster, who sell suitable car sharing programs for smartphones, but which are more intended for company fleets or commercial rentals.
Car manufacturers are pushing into the subscription business
The most important players in the car subscription market, however, could soon become automakers.
They have long since recognized the potential of temporary car ownership.
"The number of people is growing who do not necessarily own a vehicle permanently, but want to use it exclusively for a defined period of time," says Klaus Zellmer, VW Board Member for Sales and Marketing.
The Wolfsburg-based car manufacturer has also been offering car subscriptions since September 1 - for the ID.3 and ID.4 e-models.
If you want to drive the ID.3 electric car for a limited period, you can currently pay as a subscription customer at VW from 499 euros per month, including 800 free kilometers.
VW wants to generate a fifth of its sales with car subscriptions in 2030.
Other manufacturers such as Volvo, Mercedes, Porsche, Hyundai, Genesis and Toyota are now also offering subscriptions.
First and foremost, they want to push vehicles onto the market. Urgent problems such as congested streets, excessive parking space requirements and other consequential damage caused by more and more cars are not solved even with subscriptions. However, sharing options could be a way of lessening the flood of cars.