• Dealers will pay a monthly fee, but set their own pricing plans for subscriptions
  • Will include a mobile app, short-term leasing, insurance and financing options
  • Company envisions dealers eventually buying in as part-owners

A new startup in Germany has created a novel concept for the automotive market: a car-subscription SaaS targeted at auto dealers. DasAboMobil promises dealers a host of services to help monetize their inventory, as consumers subscribe to drive their vehicles.

With more motorists in Western Europe eschewing car ownership — and the inherent maintenance, tax, insurance and registration responsibilities — new services are evolving to meet the demand. Multiple car manufacturers in Germany have rolled out subscription services, including Ford, Volkswagen, and most recently Kia. The two leading automotive marketplaces in the country — Mobile.de and AutoScout24.de — also have car- subscription services.

DasAboMobil is another subscription provider in the list, but with a twist. The company aims to be the country’s first SaaS digital car subscription focused on needs of automotive traders. Created by CEO Jürgen Kolodziej and CFO Marc Heinemann of the Heinemann Group car dealership (not to be confused with Gebr. Heinemann, a consumer-product trading house serving the travel industry), the Hamburg-based startup is in test mode currently, with 11 employees and about 20 regional and medium-sized participating car dealers, many of them Heinemann dealerships.

Dealers can set their own prices

Currently, the service is free of charge, but eventually it will be offered for a fixed monthly fee of €59.95. Additional services, such as credit checks, will be included for an additional €10 per month.

“The dealer is responsible for the successful implementation of his subscription model. DasAboMobil is exclusively a platform for dealers who want to operate their subscription model independently. The pricing, for example, is of course the responsibility of the trader. We support them in this to the best of our ability,” Marc Heinemann told the AIM Group.

According to the company’s founders, several factors put sellers at a disadvantage when offering their cars on subscription services, including a lack of customization, individual marketing, influence on vehicle pricing, and limited face-to-face contact with the end customer. To tackle these issues, DasAboMobil offers a variety of features, such as individualized presentation of cars and pricing calculations using an in-house tool that gathers data from Europe’s largest used-car platforms.

Financing, insurance options coming

The company also intends to facilitate short- term subscriptions, such as weekend try- out, daily, weekly and monthly rentals.

By the end of the year, the service will rollout leasing and financing options through the website and launch its own mobile app. The company told the AIM Group it intends to have around three partners in each county within Germany, which would amount to 1,200 dealers countrywide.

A subscription service for dealers is not a new concept internationally. In Australia, the Carly Go app, part of ASX-listed Carly Holdings Ltd., offers a similar full-stack middleman service for dealers. But as a manufacturer-independent offering with no transaction fees, DasAboMobil is a unique proposition in Germany.

“Every car dealer who registers with DasAboMobil is tested and can then participate in the portal. The vast majority of dealers are brand dealers who have vehicle stocks subject to sales tax. Independent dealers who buy vehicles themselves are just as welcome if they want to operate the subscription model. Used-vehicle dealers can of course also participate,” Heinemann told us.

Can it succeed?

But DasAboMobil will need to develop the brand and convince dealers to get on board. Konstantin Stenzel, CMO and co-founder at Faaren Group, a German white-label software company and owner of a marketplace for car subscriptions, sees potential in such a dealer-owned model. He told the AIM Group that incentivizing dealers is vital, and strengthening the relationship between car dealers and service providers is a key process for the market.

A spokesperson for another Germany-based car subscription provider, speaking with the AIM Group while requesting anonymity, found the idea of a dealer-owned model to be “intriguing,” as it would lead to a diversification of the industry. The person said that transparency will be essential to the success of the model.

As part of its test phase over the past year, DasAboMobil has delivered turnover of around €89,500 just from participating Heinemann dealerships (three in total). The company says it has a return of 52 to 82% depending on whether a daily, weekly or monthly subscription is taken out.

“The sales of the other dealers are still relatively low, as experience shows that it takes some time until the subscription model is sufficiently understood as an additional source of income within the employee structure and enough vehicles are put online,” Heinemann told us.

Investment wanted

Financing has so far come from the founders’ own resources, but Kolodziej and Heinemann estimate that approximately €1.5 million is needed to accelerate growth and further develop the technology. DasAboMobil is currently seeking investors and ultimately sees dealers becoming part- owners in the business.

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