Study: Gas-vehicle resale worries could drive subscriptions

Automakers are trying out subscription models for EVs as an alternative to traditional buying or leasing, but a new Deloitte report argues they may also play a somewhat surprising role in gasoline-car sales.

With expected growth in EV adoption, concerns over the resale value of internal-combustion cars may drive subscription models, according to the report. This conclusion was based on a fall 2022 survey of more than 9,500 consumers in the U.S. and Europe, according to Deloitte.

But that worry doesn’t always go in the direction we might expect. Of those surveyed, 57% of European consumers and 55% of U.S. consumers “expressed concern” about the resale value of their internal-combustion vehicles “especially because of their planned obsolescence in favor of EV adoption,” according to Deloitte.

Consumer interest in vehicle subscriptions (from 2023 Deloitte report)

Consumer interest in vehicle subscriptions (from 2023 Deloitte report)

 

Granted, concern about the resale value of EVs was also high, with 47% of European and 49% of U.S. survey participants saying they were concerned about the future value of their EVs. That’s likely due to rapidly changing vehicle and battery technologies, the report said.

Either way, this seems to create an opening for subscriptions, which allow consumers to put cars in their driveways for a set fee, but maintain the option to return the car at any time.

The concerns over gasoline-car resale values are a turnaround, though, as just a few years ago the concern was overwhelmingly over EV resale value. Tesla may have helped quell that, as its used cars have generally sold very fast.

Concerns over vehicle resale value (from 2023 Deloitte report)

Concerns over vehicle resale value (from 2023 Deloitte report)

There’s been no shortage of experiments with EV subscriptions. Hyundai just brought back its subscriptions for EVs allowing flexible access by the month. California’s Autonomy also offers a low-commitment way to subscribe to a Tesla vehicle.

Not everyone sees subscriptions as the model of the future. Canoo started focusing on such a model but moved away from it for a fleet and ownership focus. Vinfast had been planning to offer a plan through which drivers would lease the battery pack, rather than the entire vehicle, but also appears to have backed away from that.

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