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As we get to the half way point in the year, many dealers and manufacturers will be reviewing what they’re doing. They will be reflecting upon how hard the market has become and perhaps looking at their investments in real estate in deciding whether or not it was money well spent. And an article I read today in car dealer Magazine by James Baggott chimed with a number of conversations I had had at the IMI’s network conferencing event the previous week. You may recall I was talking about talent acquisition, but it was really a conference about how fast the industry is changing. And a subscription model for car ownership was mentioned in passing.
Well James expanded substantially up on that idea, as it is currently being trialled quite successfully in the States. Essentially, for about £800 a month (quite an investment) consumers can have access to pretty well the whole of the Mercedes range. Assuming it operates on some sort of points basis, with 24 hours notice you can dial up pretty well any vehicle you want. And I am sure that there are all sorts of flavour of subscription, so for those working in London and only needing a car at the weekends they might have very different needs to those living in the country, needing a vehicle every day to go to work, but wanting a big people carrier for two days when they’re not at work. The model is an interesting one, and, as James argues, for Generation Rent not really a leap of faith. In amused me, because he was referred back to Blockbuster Video, and how we used to pop down and see if the Disc you wanted was in stock. When I can remember when they offered me a choice of Betamax or VHS. And that is probably only 30 years ago.
The really big questions are going to be answered over the next 24 months, because the more you talk to manufacturers and the more you talk to group managing directors you realise that pop-up stores on the high street, in shopping centres and even in big supermarkets could become the norm. And a generation that is used to ordering everything on Amazon or eBay is not really going to see the point of travelling too far to test drive a car. Especially if it’s on a subscription basis, just send it back if you don’t like the way it drives. Everything is surely on 14 days return?
Have a great weekend – you can relax, England don’t play until next week when Wimbledon starts as well.

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The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how good I get, I’ll never be as good as a wall.
Mitch Hedberg (1968 – 2005)
If all the year were playing holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work.
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), “King Henry IV Part I”
The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.
P. G. Wodehouse (1881 – 1975)
When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport; when a tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity.
George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950
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