(This story has been updated to note the eight states where Care by Volvo is not available.)
Like that new car smell? Hate the way it fades out over time? Well, Care by Volvo subscription program customers don’t have to worry about that now that the automaker revised the subscription program to let them trade in as frequently as every four months.
That’s the latest change Volvo has made to the Care program, one of the pioneers in the subscription field. This summer, the Swedish marque expanded the service, adding an assortment of new models that now include the big XC90 SUV.
Volvo was one of the first automakers to offer a subscription service, with a single monthly payment covering everything from the car itself to maintenance, repairs and even insurance. But, when first launched, Care was offered exclusively on the then-new XC40 model. And customers had to wait at least a year before they could swap out into a newer vehicle.
(Volvo’s Care subscription program key to growth plan.)
A few years back, subscription programs were being hailed as “the next big thing,” automakers racing to introduce versions of their own. The formulas varied widely. At the extreme, Porsche offered several versions of its Passport program which, at least on paper, meant customers could trade in on a wide range of models almost every day.
That sort of option has proven far less popular than originally anticipated and, because it added significantly to the cost of such programs, they’ve proven far less popular than expected. Porsche Passport remains available only in a handful of American markets. Meanwhile, both Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz have abandoned their own subscription programs – though they both suggest they will return when they can craft more attractive approaches.
Care by Volvo, on the other hand, is now a central part of the automaker’s U.S. marketing strategy. A measure of its success is that it’s now available in 42 of the 50 U.S. states.The holdouts are: California, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New York and South Dakota. Meanwhile, a similar program has launched in Canada.
But Volvo continues to tweak Care in order to make it more relevant and appealing. Some of the biggest changes were announced this summer.
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At its 2017 launch, the program was limited to the XC40 crossover and required customers to sign up for two years. They could then swap out for another XC40 after 12 months. Now they can do it at any point on or after four months. The August announcement, meanwhile, added a number of additional models including the XC60, the XC90 and the V60 Cross Country.
Now, Care customers can trade in as frequently as every four months — and they might have more motivation, what with the option to move around within the Volvo line-up.
Pricing, obviously, varies when you sign up for, or switch between, specific models. At the low end, an XC40 will start at as little as $650 a month – depending upon various factors that include vehicle options. At the top end, the XC90 starts at $750 a month.
Along with the appeal of a one-price package covering everything but fuel, another appealing factor of the Care by Volvo program is the ease with which a customer can sign up. At its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the automaker had a real-life customer arrange his subscription in a little more than five minutes.
The carmaker isn’t revealing specific numbers but has hinted that less than 10% of its U.S. customers opt for the Care program.
(Volvo launches production of XC40 Recharge, its first long-range BEV.)
Surprisingly, Volvo’s new spinoff, the electric Polestar brand, decided not to offer a version of Care after initially signaling it would do so. During a media drive of the Polestar 2 during the summer, however, company officials hinted they hope to have their own take on a subscription program to announce at some future date.