Volvo’s new subscription service feels more like car leasing

Volvo has apparently been designing its service differently. It seems they’ve simply attached a couple of additional services to a standard car leasing option — albeit slightly more flexible. What’s even more surprising is the distribution. The service is available all over America through Volvo dealerships, for whom it must be virtually the same as an everyday car sale through Volvo Financial Services.

You start the journey by ordering online or from within an app. For a new car configured to your personal preferences, the deposit is US$2,000. If you sign up with a dealership, they’ll take a US$500 deposit. When you place your order through the Volvo web page, you choose a specific retailer who will be in touch with you within 48 hours to confirm your order details and approve you for financing. This person is your concierge. Their job is to give you personalised service — informing you about the car and the contracts you are about to sign and providing support throughout the program.

Just like traditional leasing, Care by Volvohas model-specific pricing and your package comes with a specific car and services. The Care package is currently available for the S60 and the XC40, both of them at Momentum and R-Design equipment levels. When signing up for the package, including insurance and maintenance, you are committing yourself to subscribing for 24 months, and driving a maximum of 15,000 miles per year. After the first 12 months, you can change the car, on the condition that you sign up for a further 24-month period.

The offering seems financially sensible as you pay the same or even a little less than you would for an average car loan deal. And having insurance, services and support in one payment is better than a loan.

The major weak point of this offering would appear to be the lack of thought behind it. You can change the car, but only once a year and only for the same type of car. Which seems pretty pointless. Surely most people would want to change for something a bit different, like a sports car or an SUV for time to time. A promise, written into the contract, that you get to drive the latest S60 or some facelift whenever it comes out, would sound much more appealing. Moreover, the app is more or less redundant. It’s highly likely you’d completely forget you had it, since you can only change the car once a year. And finally, there’s the option to acquire the car, which makes it feel even more like a lease. However, with the purchase option written into the agreement, it is at least transparent.

Overall, it seems like a reasonable choice, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.

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