Mercedes Flexperience subscriptions: Drive a different car each month

Jonathon Ramsey

Mercedes-Benz will soon jump into the U.S. car subscription pool. Carmakers like Audi, Cadillac and Porsche, as well as tech companies like Clutch Technologies and Flexdrive, have already begun trialing multi-vehicle subscription services here. The Mercedes offering, called Flexperience in Europe and entirely controlled though the Mercedes Me app, should shortly begin trials in Germany with the help of the two largest dealer groups there. Mercedes doesn't know when or where the U.S. version of Flexperience will launch, but Britta Seeger, global head of sales for Mercedes-Benz, said, "We plan to have something ready within this year."

Enrollees sign up for one of four vehicle classes — A-, C-, E-, and S-Class — and have access to the coupes, convertibles, sedans, and crossovers in the respective class. Moving between classes is allowed, but moving up a class incurs an additional fee. Subscribers can request up to 12 vehicles per year, and drive 36,000 kilometers (22,369 miles) in that time. The monthly rental charge covers insurance, maintenance, repairs and tires. Mercedes says requests to swap vehicles will be accommodated once a month and at "short notice," but availability will dictate delivery. If a customer suddenly wants a crossover for a winter weekend getaway, they have a better chance of success asking a couple of weeks in advance as opposed to hours.

The app manages Flexperience from beginning to end; subscribers can choose colors, interior options, and engines, and view the rental history, expected costs, mileage, and even fuel level for the vehicle they're interested in. Pickup and returns take place at a local dealership, and Seeger says the carmaker's dealer body has not only largely bought in, but dealers were the ones who pushed Mercedes to develop Flexperience. Some M-B dealers already offer a similar service, but Seeger believes the Mercedes ecosystem "will be more streamlined and fruitful."

Mercedes is mum on price at the moment. Cadillac's Book service charges $1,500 per month, plus a $500 initiation fee, for the use of 18 vehicles in 12 months and unlimited miles. Porsche's Passport service charges a $500 activation fee, then $2,000 per month for access to eight vehicles, or $3,000 for access to 22 vehicles, and same-day swaps. That gives Mercedes a lot of room to play, and to profit. Seeger said, "Up to now in all the tests, all that we have seen — what we've asked the customer to pay was a profitable basis."

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