Access by BMW is a subscription plan for your personal Bimmerfest
The German luxury automaker is the latest to get in on the app-based all-in-one monthly subscription craze with a pricy two-tier program.
Chris PaukertFormer executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015.
Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Subscription services continue to make headway in the auto industry, with BMW being the latest to jump into the fray. The German automaker's "Access by BMW" debuts as a pilot program in Nashville starting today, April 4.
The program allows members unrestricted access to a select portfolio of BMW vehicles for a monthly payment, including insurance, maintenance, and roadside assistance. Access by BMW participants will be able to order their vehicles via mobile phone app.
In addition to simplifying monthly payments, members will be able to vary their vehicle selection depending on their moment-to-moment mobility needs, with unlimited swaps. If your weekday plans call for transporting a number of people or a larger amount of cargo, a BMW SUV can be procured. If a lazy getaway weekend is what's in mind, a convertible can be summoned, all through the Access by BMW app. Vehicles are delivered by a concierge fully fueled, with the member's personal preferences (e.g. radio stations) already preset.
Access by BMW will offer two tiers of membership, neither of which are inexpensive. The base "Legend" tier runs $2,000/month, and the up-level M tier commands a whopping $3,700/month. Here's what they include:
M: Includes access to BMW M4 convertible, M5 sedan, M6 convertible, X5M and BMW X6M SUVs
Many automakers are trialing similar subscription programs, including Cadillac and Porsche. Many of these initiatives are available in very select locations as pilot programs, in part because they require working with dealerships to maintain costly fleets of vehicles.
Porsche's Passport program is priced similarly to Access by BMW, with a $2,000 payment affording members access to various Boxster, Cayman, Cayenne and Macan models. A higher-end Accelerate tier runs $3,000/month, and gives access to select 911 and Panamera models. It is being piloted in the Greater Atlanta area, where the automaker has its North American headquarters.
So far, Volvo is the only automaker to commit to offering a nationwide subscription program, Care By Volvo, but its all-in-one program is simpler because it does not allow members to switch between vehicles, it's simply a way to aggregate all of a vehicle's associated payments and costs, including insurance and wear-and-tear expenses. At the moment, Care By Volvo only involves the company's new XC40 compact crossover, but its V60 station wagon will be added shortly.
As automakers look to grapple with customers more varied mobility needs and openness to new services like vehicle- and ride-sharing, subscription services like Access by BMW are being investigated as a valuable way to keep motorists happy. Not incidentally, they have the side benefit of increased interactions with an automaker's latest vehicles, and they tend to involve more interactions with dealers -- both of which are seen as key gateways to brand loyalty and future purchase.
For a deep dive into the auto industry's growing obsession with monthly subscription plans, be sure to check out Roadshow's definitive guide.