As we enter a new decade, car subscription in Australia has well and truly progressed from new-age novelty to present-day reality.
The automotive industry's answer to the commitment phobia that plagues plenty of millennials, services such as GoGet and Carbar are to car ownership what Spotify is to music – and they've seen massive uptake in recent years.
UPDATE, 13/02/20: Since this story was published, Carly has entered the Brisbane market.
A 2018 report from market research company Technavio found the global automotive subscription market was set to grow 71 per cent from 2018 to 2022.
Jonathan Englert, head of communications for GoGet, can attest to this astronomic rise, saying they've seen "massive growth" since the service was founded in 2003.
"The first eight years were relatively slow, but the last five to seven years have been meteoric," Englert told CarAdvice.
"We have more than 150,000 members, including 25 per cent of City of Sydney households and 17 per cent of City of Melbourne households
"Given we take 10 vehicles off the road for every car share vehicle, if we had more than a million members, we would have a notable effect on congestion."
Although most car subscription outfits offer flexible cancellation policies, rates inclusive of insurance and registration and a fleet of available options, they each vary in how and where users can access the vehicles.
They also each have their own limitations – from minimum subscription terms, to joining fees or finite vehicle ranges and locations.
So, we investigated all the options currently available to Australian consumers and broke them down across key criteria to help you find the service that's best for you.
Because some car share services are larger than others – and their popularity differs from state to state – we have chosen to list each car subscription provider in alphabetical order rather than rank them. As always, read the fineprint before you sign up.
What: Launched in May 2019, Blinker is not a marketplace but rather an end-to-end software platform allowing car dealerships and organisations to offer subscription services.
Where: There are currently Blinker providers in NSW, QLD, ACT, SA and WA, with over 100 Blinker providers expected nationally by the end of 2020.
Pricing and inclusions: The most affordable subscription price is $99 per week which includes the price of the vehicle, registration, insurance, servicing, maintenance and roadside assistance. Each dealership is free to set their own car subscription plans and pricing so it still pays to shop around for the best subscription deal.
Conditions: The minimum term can be as short as 30 days, with notice periods ranging from seven to 21 days, depending on the provider.
Eligibility requirements: Subscribers must be over 21, have a good driving history and not use the vehicle for the purpose of ridesharing.
Access: Customers can subscribe online through the Blinker provider's website, over the phone or in-showroom and collect their car directly from their Blinker provider. Most customers will be able to subscribe and drive away on the same day.
What: Launched in 2016 as a virtual car dealership, Carbar has since become predominantly a subscription service offering no-strings-attached temporary ownership of a single car.
Where: Melbourne and Sydney with plans to expand to Brisbane.
Pricing and inclusions: Pricing is based on the retail value of the car, with plans starting at $109 per week all the way up to $800 per week. Pricing includes maintenance, insurance, registration, roadside assist and warranty (even if the vehicle is out of manufacturers' warranty). An upfront fee is billed at the beginning of the subscription. The upfront fee starts from $240 and varies based on the make or model chosen and is non-refundable. However, all Carbar subscriptions have no cancellation fee or minimum term.
Conditions: Two weeks' notice of cancellation.
Eligibility requirements: People aged 21 and over can subscribe as long as they hold a P2 license at minimum. Some income tests will also be conducted to ascertain the right pricing for you.
Access: You can arrange your car online and collect it from Carbar dealership locations or have it delivered to your home for free within 50km of the CBD (delivery over greater distances is available for a fee).
Desmond Hang, the CEO of Carbar.
What: Launched in early 2019, Carly is owned by Collaborate Corporation, which also operates DriveMyCar, a peer-to-peer car rental provider. Via a monthly subscription to Carly, customers can get access to a used vehicle through a dealership (Carly has partnerships with Hyundai, SG Fleet and Suttons Motors) without any upfront fees, deposits, interest or break fees.
Where: Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Pricing and inclusions: Vehicles start at $119 a week and can go past $400 a week for new luxury cars. There are three subscription levels depending on the amount of mileage and the insurance excess you need, but all plans offer the ability to switch cars each month. All Carly vehicle subscriptions include insurance, servicing, registration and roadside assistance.
Conditions: Subscribers must give 30 days notice of cancellation and there is a minimum term of 30 days.
Eligibility requirements: To subscribe to Carly you have to be over 21 years of age, have a full driver's licence and a valid credit card.
Access: Subscribers can book via Carly's website, or by hitting the Carly button on participating dealer sites, and then can collect the car from the dealer.
Chris Noone, the CEO of Collaborate, Carly's parent company.
What: Launched in December 2018, FlexiGO is a digital platform where both businesses and private drivers can choose a vehicle subscription based on their usage and commitment needs.
Where: Southeast Queensland, with plans to expand to Sydney, Melbourne and Perth in coming months.
Pricing and inclusions: Vehicles are available from $79 a week using traditional vehicle finance, with others available from around $210 a week, with the latter rate inclusive of everything. There is a one-off joining fee of $250.
Conditions: The minimum term of lease is one week, with one week notice of cancellation.
Eligibility requirements: FlexiGO is available to all Australian license holders, including ride share drivers.
Access: Customers in the serviced areas can arrange their vehicle online and have it delivered to their home.
What: One of the original car subscription services to launch in Australia, GoGet charges members a subscription fee that allows them to book a range of vehicles in their area by the hour. The type of vehicle you can access is determined by the availability in your area.
Where: Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Orange and Newcastle.
Pricing and inclusions: Members have two options: a per-use hourly fee when you drive, or an ongoing monthly fee that reduces hourly and daily rates. Memberships range from $108-$348 a year and cars start at $6.50 an hour (this increases if you're not signed up on a monthly basis). Usage fees cover fuel, registration and maintenance.
Conditions: Cars must be returned with a quarter tank of fuel, any damage must be reported, GoGet must be notified of late returns. You can't change, shorten or cancel a booking that's already started. You can pause or cancel your membership at any time.
Eligibility requirements: A current drivers license and valid payment method.
Access: Members book a car online through GoGet’s booking system, use their personal swipe card to access the vehicle closest to them (they're parked in allocated GoGet spots on the street), and return the car to the same parking spot when they’re done.
What: Launched in May 2019, HelloCars allows consumers to subscribe entirely online to access a wide range of used cars for short to mid-term periods.
Where: Sydney, with subscribers along the east coast of Australia.
Pricing and inclusions: Pricing starts at $99 per week which includes the vehicle, registration, insurance, servicing, maintenance and roadside assistance. The entry-level plan also requires a $299 upfront fee, but the other two plans do not require an upfront fee.
Conditions: Minimum terms can be as short as 30 days, with a 21-day notice period before cancellation.
Eligibility requirements: Subscribers must be over 21, with good driving history and no intention of using the cars for ridesharing purposes.
Access: Customers can book online and collect their cars directly from HelloCars in Sydney, near Parramatta.
What: As this article was published, Holden's car subscription arm, Maven, offered both short and long term subscriptions to a range of Holden vehicles. However, CarAdvice understands this may be wound back some time in 2020 to include only long term plans.
Where: All major cities covering Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
Pricing and inclusions: Maven offers free lifetime membership with no joining or exit fees. The most affordable entry-level vehicle is the Holden Trax SUV, which starts at $225 per week. This weekly rate includes registration, insurance, scheduled servicing, 24/7 roadside assistance and unlimited kilometres.
Conditions: Members can cancel the service with seven days’ notice after they have completed an initial 28-day period.
Eligibility requirements: Subscribers are subject to ID and document checks.
Access: Members collect vehicles from the Maven Hub in each city, which is generally conveniently co-located with a Holden dealership.
What: Launched in 2018, Motopool caters to Queensland-based customers who want all the benefits of car ownership but with more flexibility. Motopool allows you to rent your choice of car over several months and is aimed at those who travel for work, are in between cars or are in need of a second car.
Where: It's based in Brisbane, but services south-east Queensland including the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast.
Pricing and inclusions: The base Motopool plan starts at $154 a week, plus a one-off joining fee of $250. The weekly fee covers registration, insurance, service and maintenance, tyres and roadside assist, but the customer must cover fuel and tolls. Pricing changes according to the kilometres you need.
Conditions: A three-month minimum term and a minimum of seven days' notice of cancellation.
Eligibility requirements: Customers must be 21 years of age and have held a driver's license for 12 months or more, with no history of suspensions or cancellations within the last three years or any bankruptcy claims in the last seven years. You will also be asked some insurance questions.
Access: Customers can arrange subscription over the phone or online and cars can be collected from the Motopool office in Salisbury, Queensland.