I had a flip phone until about two years ago. You know the kind… the phone rang, I flipped it open to talk and slammed it shut when done. If I wanted to text, I pushed the individual number buttons until reaching the appropriate letter.
I held on to that phone through the introduction of the iPhone, then the second iPhone, then the iPhone 3G. I stayed true to my phone as the iPhone 4 came and went. Finally, when the 4S came out, I reluctantly caved in and committed to a new two-year relationship with the iPhone 4. It didn’t take long before I had to have 4S. Now I’ve got my eye on the 5.
I’ve fallen into the upgrade trap, which is now extending into the world of auto retailing.
Thanks to the iPhone, consumers are getting used to short-term contracts with technology and looking to upgrade to the latest and greatest as quickly as possible. The same thing is happening with cars, as owners tend to tire of them after a year or two.
Could a new form of lease be just around the corner?
AOL Autos says,
Car leasing and the mobile phone industry have become very similar models. This has been driven by the recent recession and increasing inclusion of technology and connectivity in our vehicles. New kinds of infotainment are being added to our vehicles every year, and people tend to want the latest stuff in their ride.
So many new cars today are really just driveable entertainment systems with Bluetooth, touchscreens, WiFi, DVD and even direct connectivity to iPhones and other smartphones. In-car technology evolves and improves faster than the average Apple update, which makes the temptation to upgrade a car after a couple of years especially fierce.
In fact, the survey AOL quoted said that almost 60 percent of people want to change their cars as often as they change their phones. So why not structure car leases like phone contracts?
Let people choose between a set of monthly payment options that includes varying limits on usage (mileage) and features (options), then set an initial payment requirement for the vehicle chosen and sign buyers to a two-year contract. At the end of the contract, people could either upgrade to the latest version and a new contract or continue month-to-month on their existing plan.
The benefit to consumers is the ability to upgrade easily, while automakers and dealers secure long-term repeat business from loyal subscribers.
We are a nation of consumers who fear commitment on nearly every level. That’s why the way we acquire cars will surely change in the coming years to something more like a subscription, rather than the traditional long-term purchase model.
Do you want to change your car as often as you change your phone?