Buying a car is a big commitment. Even if you decide to lease, you still need to come up with a sizable down payment, and are locked into making monthly payments for several years. Maybe you only need a car for a week or two, but rental cars are pricey, especially in the long term. Flexdrive is a pay-as-you-go car service that was developed as a new option for individuals who didn’t fit traditional car-buying molds.
A joint venture between Mt. Laurel-based Holman Automotive Group and Cox Automotive, Flexdrive affords users the ability to select a vehicle that fits their needs, get approved for the vehicle, pay for a subscription to use the car and schedule a pickup at a nearby dealership, all through an intuitive mobile application. The weekly (or 28 day) subscription fee is paid for however long you choose to keep using the service and includes maintenance, insurance and roadside assistance.
The service, still in its infancy, has a location in Cherry Hill that opened in March, and has been well received at locations in Atlanta and Austin.
“The entire customer experience is based around the mobile application,” Jeremy Paolone, vice president, retail support, Holman Automotive Group, says. “So, the whole process is very fast and convenient for the customer. … It provides tremendous flexibility.”
Being a social program, Paolone says that marketing for Flexdrive is very digital-based, including mining a grassroots social media following and utilizing digital referral programs to build a loyal base.
“It’s no secret that the sharing economy is coming, and there are a lot of plays in that economy, especially in automotive,” Paolone says. “Flexdrive is a great foray into the sharing economy, and was a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the changing aspects of the automotive industry.”
Tapping into evolving consumer desires, the long-term plan for Flexdrive is to be “just another offering” available at car dealerships across the country, in addition to the traditional methods of buying or leasing.
“There are a lot of use cases [for Flexdrive], such as for those who serve in the military, who may be in training for six months and could use a car for only that period of time, or for graduate students who only need a car for a [semester],” Paolone says.
He adds that the service is also a nice option for those with below average credit who are seeking to buy a car, since a high credit score is not necessary to use a Flexdrive vehicle. “You can get a Flexdrive car to get you around until you improve your credit [to a point where you can then buy a vehicle],” he says.
Flexdrive is a perfect example of the integration of existing technology, combining the convenience and app-based use of Uber with the utility of essentially “owning” your own car – without being strapped down with payments for a long-term commitment.