Now this was more like it. Upon receiving a communication that my current subscription was about to expire, I made a quick phone call to Lana, Flexdrive’s Market Manager, and swapped out the rental-fare Kia Forte for a black 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 sedan. It had a black MB-Tex interior with wood inlays and, in my opinion, was more fitting for the Flexdrive purpose and experience.
Most vehicle reservations can and should be handled via the app, but in the case of the fancier offerings, a little insider help, well, helps, as this particular car had not been officially listed for subscription, and cars like these rarely are since they are quickly reserved by existing members such as me. Because this is a luxury vehicle, the Mercedes’ subscription rate was about $150 more per week and arguably worth it when compared to my initial entry-level rental. Also worth noting, an additional $250 refundable deposit, over and beyond the Kia’s $250 deposit, was required, as well. As they say, you’ve gotta pay to play.
When I arrived at our Flexdrive location, a walk-around was conducted of the car that I was returning and then of the C300 to identify any existing blemishes or concerns. Besides some minor marks that can be expected of a 3-year-old vehicle, there was nothing serious worth noting. I did have to wait as an update to the vehicle’s multimedia and navigation system was performed, at which time I initiated the new subscription via Flexdrive’s app, declined a couple of beverage offers, then was on my way.
During both of my 7-day subscription periods, I have to admit that the experience was very similar to getting a car from any garden-variety car rental company, and the fact that I live about 45 minutes away makes it a tough sell for a week-long Kia, as I’m sure there’s an Enterprise or Budget within a few miles of practically everyone. Where this particular business model’s intrigue presents itself is in its longer-term and specialty vehicle rentals. Yes, it’s a bit pricey, but it does also include insurance and maintenance of the vehicle. The longer subscription periods allow members to adopt the mindset of owning the vehicle, just as one would a lease, and Flexdrive encourages this, even asking members to take their vehicles in for servicing when it’s due and reimbursing them afterwards. While still new, there has to be something to the subscription program, or major manufacturers like Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Ford and most recently BMW wouldn’t be doing the same.
Once my second subscription had concluded, returning the vehicle was as simple as partaking in the final walk-around and handing over the keys. Lana took care of the rest, including the reimbursement of my $500 total deposit. I do owe my wife another meal, now, for driving me back home. Brunch was an appropriate "thank you" for driving me to pick up my Kia subscription, but this time I may need to consider something fancier — you know — that’s comparable to the Benz.
Flexdrive is partially owned by Cox Automotive, the parent company of Autotrader.