Though Care by Volvo is less expensive than its competitors, subscribing to an XC40 isn’t meant to be an economical choice. It’s about convenience.
“It’s not like when you go to McDonald’s and you get a value meal,” said Volvo spokesman Jim Nichols.
The program is meant to “overcome the friction some customers have in acquiring and owning a vehicle,” he said. “We found a lot of people entering into car ownership for the first or second time found themselves overwhelmed by the options available.”
The subscription model could portend bigger changes in the automotive world.
“What we are really testing the waters for is autonomous vehicle ride-sharing,” said Ivan Drury, an analyst for Edmunds. “Can we get people acclimated to the idea of (switching) cars often?”
Volvo will benefit from reams of data generated by its new program that could be used to tailor future initiatives.
“The learning will be really insightful, to see how consumers will approach car ownership in the future,” Drury said.
For now, though, you’ll have to actually drive your XC40.
After a week tooling around in one, I came away more interested in the subscription model than the SUV itself. The car is competent, sure, but it’s merely that, which could be a problem in an ultra-competitive segment where luxury automakers, including Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, all sell well-honed competitors.
Our test car, an XC40 T5 AWD R-Design that cost $45,935, came loaded with options, making it essentially equivalent to the $700-a-month subscription offering.
The tester featured a two-tone paint job with a blacked-out roof that made the car look more svelte and speedier than it is. The turbocharged four-cylinder motor churns out 248 horsepower, but feels overly subdued until the dynamic driving mode is activated, significantly changing throttle response to make the all-wheel-drive SUV a more engaging driver.