Expert Insight: How To Meet An Underserved Driver Market With Flexible Monthly Plans
PSFK learns about the keys to designing a service for today's younger consumers compatible with mobile and digital-first lifestyles, in conversation with the founder of Driver 1 monthly car rental program
From Uber to Netflix, younger consumers are less concerned about owning and instead value the immediacy and variety that renting and sharing can provide them. This mindset applies across verticals—but is slow to manifest in the entrenched automotive category, where select car makers and service providers are just beginning to offer subscription and rental offers that meet Gen-Z and millennial expectations.
Driver 1 is aiming to change this, offering a car rental program for the subscription age in the form of flexible monthly plans designed with younger drivers in mind. PSFK spoke to founder Tim Hammond to learn about designing a program for the younger members of the household, not only enabling consumers like students to finance their driving needs, but also helping the most vulnerable drivers access higher-quality cars, breaking with the trend of younger customers being stuck with lemons that can put them at risk.
PSFK: What unmet needs did you notice when it comes to younger drivers?
Tim Hammond: Young drivers are being underserved by the car industry, while they are the early adopters of subscription services like Netflix. Generation Z no longer cares to be owners and wants options and on-demand access, rather than saving to buy a large purchase.
Driver 1 aims to solve the problem where young drivers are often caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to getting their first car. Either their parents are willing to finance a new car on a 4 or 5 year lease (but then have the issue of continuing to finance it after their children have left home for University), or they buy what they can afford from their savings, which often ends up to be an old banger that carries inherent safety risks and unknown maintenance costs.
What factors did you keep in mind when designing a service targeted at younger demographics?
The options for young drivers are currently limited, with car financing models locking customers into multi-year periods when they might only want a car for 12 months prior to university and then not need one again until they get their first job.
Central to the idea is the flexibility to fit in with the lifestyle and time needs of young drivers. With Driver 1 you can have a car for 18 months while at school and then restart your subscription after University. You can start with a city car and then have the freedom to swap to a larger car as you need it.
Walk us through the process of returning one of your cars (given your 14-day money-back guarantee).
Customers choose the car they want online or via the Driver 1 website at https://www.driver1.co/, and select the monthly price they can afford to see a range of cars available for local delivery with a straightforward monthly subscription price and the flexibility of returning the car when they no longer need it or swapping it for a larger car. All cars come with free road tax, Platinum Plus Warranty, free breakdown cover and MOT.
When you order your car through Driver1, we give customers a no-quibble 14 day money-back guarantee, so they can return the car if you feel it is not suitable for them.
Are there any qualities that make the cars in your repertoire particularly suitable for young drivers?
Yes. Crucially, cars provided by Driver 1 are all three to five years old and have already depreciated in value by 50% to 70% so our customers are paying far lower monthly subscriptions than if they were buying or leasing a new car.
What's the selection process for adding those cars to your offering?
All cars provided by Driver 1 are in low insurance and low tax brackets so they’re ideal for new drivers.
Safety is paramount. Driver 1 ensures all cars have Euro Ncap 4 or 5 star ratings, are nearly new and have been properly serviced.
We believe that the Driver 1 model can really help move away from the old unsafe cars most young drivers start with into safer nearly new cars that they can’t normally afford to buy. We want to ensure that the most vulnerable driver in the household is driving the safest car.
Ultimately, Driver 1 is focusing on providing first-car drivers with quality at affordable prices, aiming to make driving like a mobile phone subscription on wheels. For more insights from brands and services upending entrenched categories like the automotive space, see PSFK's reports and newsletters.