Switching it up: Nissan launches subscription service in the U.S.

Toronto, Ontario — February 20, 2020 — A future dominated by vehicle fleets is one step closer after the launch of an entry-level subscription car service.

This week, Nissan launched Nissan Switch, a subscription service, in the U.S.

Plans, which start at $699 per month plus a $495 one-time fee, provide subscribers with a vehicle rented for a maximum of 180 days, or 3,200 km–whichever is first. Four vehicles offered under the basic plan Altima, Frontier, Pathfinder and Rogue.

A $899-per-month premium membership gives subscribers access to more vehicle models. At this level, subscribers may also select 370Z, Armada, Leaf Plus, Maxima, Murano and Titan.

For an additional $100-per-day, premium members may rent a GT-R. GT-Rs cannot be rented for more than a week.

While Canadian collision repairers are unlikely to deal with OEM subscription vehicles until they are more widely available, Nissan’s new service does provide some insight into how repairs will be managed.

According to Nissan, subscription vehicles are fully insured on a fleet insurance policy held by Nissan, but the subscriber has a $1000 deductible (and a whopping $5,000 for the GT-R). Subscribers are liable for hail and flood damage.  This appears to indicate that drivers, not Nissan, will be responsible for choosing where vehicles are repaired.

Nissan isn’t the first OEM to gamble on a subscription service, but most of these services have been from higher-end European carmakers and based in select U.S. markets. Last year, Porsche, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and BMW began testing their own services in select U.S. markets.

The one exception, Ford’s Canvas, has offered a used-car subscription service, which also provides older Lincoln models.

While subscription-based services may be seen as providing a convenient service to some drivers, restrictions may dissuade some drivers from joining it.

For one thing, only drivers older than 25 may be eligible to subscribe to Nissan Switch, and approval is subject to a driving history and credit rating review.

For another, the service has a $200 pause fee.

It also requires non-subscriber drivers to be signed up, and, while pets are allowed in vehicles, they must be contained in crates.

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