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THE concept of subscribing to a car rather than purchasing or leasing one is gaining ground in Australia with research showing a big chunk of Australians are warming to the concept.

Carly, Australia’s first flexible car subscription provider, has commissioned research which shows that  almost four out of 10 Australians (38 percent) would consider subscribing to a car rather than purchasing or leasing a vehicle.

Carly says that this shift in consumer preferences towards flexible car access is accelerating as Australia experiences its first recession in decades.

Carly commissioned OmniPoll to conduct the nation-wide research, which showed a clear generational shift towards car subscription.

The survey found that digital natives – Generation Z and Millennials – were the demographics most likely to reject traditional ownership or leasing options in favour of subscribing to a car.

The financial pressures created by COVID-19 were also found to be a key factor in consumer attitudes towards car subscription as car buyers try to recession-proof their finances.

The survey showed:

  • 38 percent of Australians would consider subscribing to a car rather than purchasing or leasing a vehicle.
  • 47 percent of households with children would consider subscribing to, rather than purchasing, their next family car.
  • 69 percent of Generation Z (18-24 years) indicated a preference for a no-strings-attached  subscription option, followed by Millennials (25-34 years) at 50 percent.
  • The top two features driving interest in car subscription across all demographics are ‘all car running expenses are included’ and ‘no deposit needed’. The latter is unique to Carly, as the only car subscription company in Australia that does not require an upfront deposit.
  • Compared to six months ago, of the 38 percent of Australians considering subscribing, 42 percent are now more likely to consider car subscription as the best way to obtain a car.
  • Of the 31 percent of Australians currently extremely or very worried about their financial situation due to the pandemic, 46 percent would consider car subscription and 24 percent are more likely to choose it now.

Carly CEO Chris Noone said in a statement: “Car subscription is a hot topic right now. Australians are looking at various ways to de-risk their finances in light of COVID-19, with big-ticket expenses such as mortgages and car loans causing the greatest concern.

“For more Australians than ever, a subscription model presents a familiar and risk-free alternative to a big financial outlay.

“Our own figures have indicated that Australians are increasingly interested in car subscription, with a more than 43 percent increase in live subscriptions in June (vs. March 2020).

“This can be compared to retail sales of new passenger vehicles and SUVs, which declined by 18 percent in the June 2020 Quarter vs. the March 2020 Quarter (VFACTS June 2020).

“However, we wanted to have an accurate understanding of the level of consideration for car subscription, the key drivers, the genuine level of intent in terms of uptake and if that is being driven by the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and their financial circumstances – this is what drove us to conduct the nation-wide survey.”

Carly’s research was conducted in June 2020 by OmniPoll and surveyed a sample of 1228 people aged 18+. The company said the results were post-weighted to the Australian Bureau of Statistics census data, “providing the first-ever statistically reliable insights into the attitudes of Australians to car subscription and how they are becoming increasingly favourable – even as the economy slows”.

Chris Noone

“The research found that car subscription is on the national agenda, with consistent figures registered across all states and territories. Queensland showed the highest interest, with 41 percent saying they would consider a shift to car subscription.

“The demographics most likely to be hardest hit by COVID-19’s devastating impact on jobs and financial security overwhelmingly embraced the idea of car subscription.

“Generation Z (18-24 years), is leading the charge, with 69 percent indicating a preference for a no-strings-attached subscription option. Millennials (25-34 years) followed closely behind at 50 percent, while 47 percent of households with children would also consider subscribing to rather than purchasing their next family car.

“The survey found two key features underpinning interest across the demographics. The most important is ‘all car running expenses are included – no surprises or hidden costs’. Secondly, respondents indicated that the ‘no deposit’ feature, which is unique to Carly car subscription, was a real incentive.

“The variable addressed in the research was the impact of COVID-19 and the current economic climate on attitudes to car subscription. With Australia now experiencing high levels of unemployment and the economy in recession, is this driving interest, and importantly, the intent to take up car subscription?

“The results indicate that this is the case: of the 38 percent of Australians now considering car subscription, 42 percent are more likely to consider this option as the best way to obtain a car compared to six months ago.

“The research also revealed that 31 percent of Australians are now extremely or very worried about their financial situation. Of that group, 46 percent would consider car subscription and 24 percent are more likely to choose it now, confirming the real growth potential for car subscription in the current economic climate.

“The research indicates that the conventional wisdom of long-term car ownership is fast losing ground, accelerated by the impact of COVID-19, with many Australians saddled with cars they can no longer afford to drive, repay or maintain.

“In the current recession, spending big on material possessions like cars – or taking out loans to eventually own them – is now considered a risky move,” Mr Noone said.

“Australians are turning their attention to car subscription because the financial risk is negated by the ability to stop their subscription at any time, without any financial penalty. At Carly, you just need to give 30 days’ notice.

“This is the perfect card to have up their sleeve to immediately alleviate expenses should their employment or financial circumstances change. Carly’s unique offering of no upfront fee or deposit further mitigates risk in the minds of Australian consumers.”

The company said that while the full impact of COVID-19 on the economy is still unknown, Carly’s online operating model and cloud-based technology mean the business is positioned to cope with future operational challenges and to deliver a product Australians can easily access.

“And, there will be no shortage of car availability as Carly has partnered with multiple vehicle suppliers (including a recent partnership with Hyundai and investment from SG Fleet), creating a new and recurring revenue stream for the automotive industry at a time when car sales are at a 30-year low.

“Carly’s flexible vehicle access and no deposit offering is an appealing, low-risk financial solution for Australian consumers recession-proofing their lifestyle,” Mr Noone said.

Meanwhile Carly, which is operated by Collaborate Corporation, has released results that show continued sales growth despite the recent tightening of restrictions, especially in one of its key markets – Melbourne.

Despite the imposition of tighter restrictions on economic activity and physical movement to varying degrees across Australia and New Zealand in recent weeks, the company said revenue continued to improve and the key elements of the strategic plan remain unchanged.

Key points in the results are:

  • Subscription Transaction Value for Carly car subscription has continued to improve month-on-month since April 2020
  • 48 percent increase in Subscription Transaction Value in July 2020 vs. March 2020, which represents growth since the period prior to the reimposition of

COVID-19 restrictions.

  • 30 percent increase in Subscription Transaction Value in July 2020 vs. June 2020, building on the 13 percent increase in the June 2020 Quarter vs. March 2020

Quarter

  • 99 percent increase in Subscription Transaction Value in July 2020 vs. the FY20 monthly average
  • The increase in revenue was not confined to car subscription. A 15 percent increase in Rental and Subscription Transaction Value, which also includes revenue from DriveMyCar car rental and rideshare rentals, was achieved in July 2020 vs. June 2020 and a 37 percent increase since the COVID-19 lows of April 2020.

Collaborate CEO Chris Noone, said “While many businesses have been severely impacted by COVID-19, Collaborate’s efforts to reposition itself over the past 12 months have prepared it well to deal with the current challenges, benefit from economic uncertainty and leverage opportunities brought about by longer term structural change in the automotive market.”

By John Mellor

KPMG
DealerCell
Schmick