Nissan will begin its Switch program at a dealership in Houston.

Nissan is launching a new subscription service that will allow a customer to swap between pretty much any Nissan product as often as they wish, even on a daily basis.

The program, dubbed Nissan Switch, becomes the most flexible of all the new automotive subscription programs that have been launched over the last several years. And, while most of those cover high-line brands, such as Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, Nissan’s “on-demand driving” service targets mainstream customers.

“Nissan Switch is another way that Nissan is testing alternatives to the notion of traditional mobility, without long-term financial commitments for our customers,” said Andrew Tavi, vice president, Legal, External Affairs and Business Development, Nissan North America Inc.

(Nissan’s Q3 earnings plunge, company revises FY2019 outlook.)

As with many of the existing subscription programs, Nissan offers several different tiers with Switch:

Nissan Switch users can get a different vehicle daily, starting at $699 a month.

·       The Select level covers four models: the Altima, Rogue, Pathfinder and Frontier, and costs $699 a month;

·       The Premium level adds the long-range Leaf Plus EV, as well as Nissan’s Maxima, Murano, Armada, Titan and 370Z models. Pricing jumps to $899 a month;

·       A Premium level customer also can get the GT-R supercar for an additional $100 a day with a maximum of seven days.

The Nissan Switch program does require a $495 “membership activation fee” up front.

As with existing subscription programs, such as Porsche Passport, the new Nissan Switch service is not only meant to give a motorist flexibility in what they drive but also to simplify the process of operating a personal vehicle. The monthly fees cover pretty much everything a motorist would experience, with the exception of fuel costs (or electricity for the Leaf). That includes insurance, taxes and fees, delivery, regular maintenance and cleaning.

“This program provides more choice, convenience, and flexibility,” said Tavi. “For those who want a sedan during the week and an SUV or sports car, like the GTR, on the weekends, Nissan Switch provides the solution.”

As has been the case with other automotive subscription programs, Nissan is opting for an initial, limited rollout of Switch, focusing on the greater Houston market. Dealership Central Houston Nissan is overseeing the project.

(Nissan prepares to offer U.S. employees buyouts.)

A dealership concierge will deliver the vehicle to the location a customer chooses and then conduct a walk-around to familiarize the motorist with the vehicle and answer questions.

Nissan offers two tiers in its subscription: Select and Premium, costing $699 and $899 a month respectively.

“We are eager to explore subscription services to understand how we can best serve customers’ evolving wants and needs,” Chad Milow, general manager of Central Houston Nissan, said in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for people to drive what they want when they need it for one, predictable payment.”

Subscription services have been hailed by some industry analysts as the way of the future, especially at a time when many Americans are rethinking mobility and options provided by ride-sharing services. Roughly a half-dozen automakers currently offer some form of subscription, though they vary widely in their details.

Volvo’s program does not allow a customer to switch between vehicles but does cover the same sort of insurance and other costs as Nissan Switch. It is also relatively open-ended, allowing a subscriber to cancel at pretty much any time. Porsche Passport has several tiers that, depending upon the fee, cover a wide range of the company’s products – as many as 20 for a $3,100 monthly price.

The German automaker last summer noted that, in the markets where Passport now operates, subscribers average 2.5 vehicle swaps per month.

There are challenges for an automaker in operating a subscription program, including the logistics of maintaining enough vehicles that customers can get what they want when they want it.

(Nissan’s turnaround chief latest to leave, dealing automaker another blow.)

General Motors last year ended its pilot Book by Cadillac program but has said it is redesigning the subscription service for relaunch sometime in 2020.

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