Business Models in the Pre-Owned Car Industry: Sharing, Subscription, and New Access Approaches to Automobiles


The new access approaches are transforming the automobile industry by shifting the focus from ownership to usage. They cater to changing consumer preferences for flexibility, affordability, and environmental consciousness. As technology advances and consumer demands evolve, we can expect further innovation and expansion in these alternative approaches to automobile access. In this article, discusses the main new business approaches in the car industry.

Three Main Business Models in the Pre-Owned Car Industry

Sharing, subscriptions, and new access approaches are innovative models emerging in the automobile industry that offer alternatives to traditional ownership. These models aim to provide flexibility, convenience, and cost-effectiveness to consumers.

1. Car-sharing

Car-sharing services allow individuals to access a vehicle for a short period, typically by the hour or day, without needing to own it. Companies like Zipcar and Car2Go provide vehicles that users can rent on demand. Car sharing offers a convenient solution for those who require occasional access to a car without the costs and responsibilities associated with ownership. It is particularly popular in urban areas where car ownership may be impractical or expensive.

2. Vehicle subscription

Vehicle subscription services have gained traction in recent years, offering a hassle-free alternative to traditional car ownership. Some companies have introduced subscription-based models in the pre-owned car industry. Subscribers pay a monthly fee to access a range of vehicles from the provider’s fleet. These services allow customers to access a fleet of pre-owned cars for a monthly fee, eliminating the need for vehicle ownership. 

Subscribers can choose from a range of vehicles and enjoy the convenience of maintenance, insurance, and other associated costs included in the subscription package. Services like Care by Volvo and Porsche Passport allow subscribers to switch between different models as per their needs and preferences.

Pros and cons of vehicle subscription 

Vehicle subscription services offer several advantages and disadvantages to consumers. It’s essential for individuals considering vehicle subscriptions to carefully evaluate their needs, usage patterns, and the terms and conditions of the subscription service. Comparing the costs and benefits against traditional ownership and other mobility options can help determine whether a vehicle subscription is the right choice for them. Here are some pros and cons of vehicle subscriptions.


  1. Flexibility. Vehicle subscription provides flexibility, allowing subscribers to access a variety of vehicles based on their needs and preferences. Subscribers can switch between different models or types of cars without the long-term commitment of ownership.
  2. Convenience. Subscription services typically cover maintenance, insurance, and roadside assistance, eliminating the hassle of managing these aspects individually. Subscribers can enjoy a hassle-free driving experience without the administrative burdens associated with car ownership.
  3. Cost-effectiveness. A vehicle subscription can be cost-effective for individuals who don’t want to avoid committing to purchasing a new vehicle or prefer not to deal with depreciation and other ownership costs. The monthly fee covers various expenses, making budgeting more predictable and potentially saving money compared to traditional car ownership.
  4. Access to luxury and exotic vehicles. Vehicle subscription services often offer access to high-end luxury or exotic cars that may be financially out of reach for many consumers. Subscribers can experience driving premium vehicles without the significant upfront costs of purchasing them.


  1. Cost. While vehicle subscriptions can be cost-effective for some individuals, there may be other economical options for some. The monthly subscription fees can be higher than the costs of owning and maintaining a vehicle, especially for those who don’t frequently need access to different cars.
  2. Limited availability. Vehicle subscription services may have limited availability in specific locations. They may be more prevalent in urban areas, leaving those in rural or remote areas with fewer options for subscription services.
  3. Mileage restrictions. Some subscription plans impose mileage restrictions, limiting the number of miles subscribers can drive without incurring additional charges. This can be a disadvantage for individuals who require significant mileage for their daily commute or other purposes.
  4. Subscription management. Subscribing to a vehicle service requires ongoing management, including selecting and scheduling vehicle pickups or drop-offs. It may involve additional logistical considerations and coordination compared to owning a personal vehicle.
  5. Ownership benefits. Unlike traditional car ownership, subscribers do not have the long-term asset value of owning a vehicle. They cannot build equity or enjoy the benefits of ownership, such as selling or customizing the car.

3. Peer-to-peer car rental

Peer-to-peer (P2P) car rental platforms enable individuals to rent their vehicles to others when they are not in use. Platforms like Turo and Getaround facilitate these transactions, allowing car owners to monetize their idle vehicles while providing renters more options and convenience. P2P car rental encourages resource sharing and can be cost-effective for renters compared to traditional car rental services.

How Customers Benefit from New Business Approaches

The pre-owned car industry encompasses various business models catering to customer needs and preferences. 

1. Dealerships

Traditional dealerships are standard business models in the pre-owned car industry. They acquire pre-owned cars through various channels, such as trade-ins and auctions. They typically refurbish and recondition them before selling them to customers. Dealerships offer multiple services, including vehicle financing, warranties, and support.

2. Online marketplaces

With the rise of the internet, online marketplaces have become increasingly popular in the pre-owned car industry. These platforms connect buyers and sellers, facilitating transactions and providing a wide selection of pre-owned vehicles. Online marketplaces often offer features such as vehicle search filters, price comparisons, and customer reviews to help buyers make informed decisions.

3. Certified pre-owned programs

Many automakers have established certified pre-owned (CPO) programs as a business model within the pre-owned car industry. These programs involve a rigorous inspection process and offer buyers extended warranties and additional benefits. CPO vehicles provide customers with the assurance of a manufacturer-backed quality assurance program, increasing trust and confidence in the pre-owned car purchase.

4. Auctions

Auctions are another prevalent business model in the pre-owned car industry, catering to dealers and individual buyers. Auctions can take place physically or online, providing a platform for sellers to sell their pre-owned vehicles to the highest bidder. Dealerships and individual buyers can participate in auctions to acquire cars at competitive prices.

5. Leasing companies

Leasing companies offer pre-owned vehicles on lease to customers for a specified period. This business model allows customers to enjoy the benefits of driving a pre-owned car without the commitment of long-term ownership. Leasing companies handle maintenance and insurance, providing customers with a hassle-free driving experience.


These approaches offer several advantages to consumers. Firstly, they provide flexibility, allowing individuals to access a vehicle when needed without the long-term commitment of ownership. Secondly, they often include additional benefits such as maintenance, insurance, and roadside assistance, reducing the administrative burdens and costs of owning a car. Lastly, they contribute to sustainable transportation practices by promoting resource-sharing and reducing vehicles on the road.

It’s worth noting that these business models can also overlap or be combined in various ways. For example, some dealerships, like, may have an online presence, and online marketplaces may partner with dealerships to provide additional services. The pre-owned car industry continues to evolve, and businesses are continually exploring innovative models to meet customer demands and create unique value propositions.