Imagine driving to the beach in a convertible. Picking up the kids after school in an SUV. And then going to a business dinner in a smart sedan. All over the course of one month.
Mercedes-Benz has launched such a pilot program in Philadelphia, allowing customers to switch from among four models a month.
The subscription service, Mercedes-Benz Collection, which starts at $1,595 a month, began this week when the car maker started taking applications over the program's website. The service is being tested in Philadelphia and Nashville through 2019, giving customers access to sample more vehicles in the fleet.
Some Mercedes-Benz customers "have very much an appetite" for trying out several different cars, and the input from Philadelphia will shape the service moving forward, said Donna Boland, manager of corporate communications at Mercedes-Benz. "There has always been a strong demand and affinity for Mercedes products in this market."
Car exchange programs — enabling customers to switch cars — represent a growing trend across luxury brands. Mercedes-Benz competitor BMW is piloting its Access by BMW service in Nashville, Porsche Passport has been a fixture in Atlanta since October, and Book by Cadillac — which launched in New York City in January 2017 — expanded to Los Angeles and Dallas in November.
"Customers are already becoming acclimated to the idea of temporary ownership," said Ivan Drury, a senior analyst at Edmunds.com, a car shopping and research site. "Combine that with the way our lives are being restructured with so many things on a monthly basis, that makes sense."
With its emphasis on luxury cars, stiff prices, and required driving background checks, this service is "not going to appeal to everyone," Drury said.
Mercedes' "Reserve" level in Philadelphia costs $1,595 per month — or about $50 a day — and customers can choose from among 11 vehicles and make up to four exchanges each month.
The "Premier" option at $2,995 a month — or nearly $100 a day — offers 21 models with unlimited swaps.