Dubai: Get to change your car every 30 days? With a car subscription, you can…
Digital platforms offering monthly subscriptions and dealerships in the UAE are working together to latch on to a trend likely to pick up some serious momentum in the next two to three years. This way, they are trying to overtake the traditional car rental market – as well as offer another option to residents who have been using ride-hailing services via apps.
“It’s a fact a more young residents do not want to own a car, or are delaying their plans,” said the CEO at one of the biggest dealerships in the UAE. “But many still would want to experience getting behind a set of wheels. This is where subscriptions come in.”
Dealerships are playing it smart by wanting to be part of a digital trend that could end up disrupting yet another industry. So, if they can offer a steady supply of new models on subscription through these apps, it ends up as a win-win for all.
In some key markets of Europe, carmakers have directly gotten into the car subscription business as individual ownership rates come down significantly. Pulkit Ganjoo, co-founder and Director of Data Science at invygo, knows the feeling. His subscription-based app is making inroads in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and also getting attention from potential investors. With a fleet of 40,000 cars from 50 brands, the platform sure has scale on its side.
Rent, subscribe or buy?
But at the end of the day, isn’t car rental and car subscribing meeting the same purpose as far as the user is concerned? Ganjoo, obviously, is not thinking that way.
“Rental companies try to lock customers to the same car for longer periods,” he said. “With a subscription, you can swap your car every 30 days. And the vehicle you subscribe to is the exact vehicle you will receive. So you not only choose a model, but also the colour, trim and other specs. All our cars come from our dealer partners, so you’re assured of a high quality vehicle.”
Globally, the car subscription category could end up representing 40 per cent of all new car sales and grow into a $40 billion market of its own. No wonder then that local dealerships are rushing to meet this trend head on.
Soham Shah, CEO and co-founder of Selfdrive.ae, says the time has certainly come for ‘on-demand mobility’ services to hit its targets in the UAE. “People who are looking for on-demand mobility are the ones settling into the country, while those looking to buy cars have been in the country for longer durations,” he said. “As such, these are two different groups, and each is witnessing an upward trajectory.
“We do not buy the fleet hosted on our platform, nor do we lease these vehicles. We are the mediators for customers to directly rent dealer-certified cars on-demand, thereby empowering dealerships to raise more revenue from their existing models.”
Selfdrive.ae has 2,400 plus cars on the road and expect this to grow close to 6,500 cars by the fourth quarter of 2022. The current average subscription period is between six months and as the market matures, Shah expects this to scale up to “nine or even 12 months”.
“I firmly believe that car subscription will provide you with the flexibility that a car rental agreement will not give,” said Shah. “Additionally, the flexibility to shift a car, return the vehicle without any penalties are the core competencies of the subscription model.
“The subscription model is more targeted to people who plan to be in the country for longer periods, have stable jobs, and are looking at basic level of mobility for their everyday requirements.”
If that means, changing the cars every month, why not?