But Jeep is taking the road less traveled. Jeep Wave combines a loyalty program and subscription plan.
At a Fiat Chrysler Automobile event, head of Jeep brand Mike Manley broke the news. He announced that Jeep Hawk and Wrangler series buyers will get Jeep Coins with their auto purchases. The loyalty currency may be redeemed for use FCA vehicles. FCA Group owns Dodge, Chrysler, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands.
Jeep owners may purchase additional Jeep Coins to continue borrowing other cars. Alternately they may join general consumers in a monthly subscription to FCA vehicles.
An aspirational brand, backed by more aspirational brands
Manley gave few details on the new program but did mention three tiers, currently dubbed Good, Better and Best, with varying insurance, vehicle and concierge service options for general consumer members. He did not reveal pricing.
"Jeep is going to dabble in the same thing everyone else is doing," says Ivan Drury, senior manager of industry analysis at Edmunds.com. "But Mercedes, BMW and Porsche don't offer a wide variety of types of types of vehicles. FCA does, especially if it opens the lineup to Alfa Romeo and Maserati."
FCA will go head to head with luxury car subscription programs in targeting buyers of high-end Jeep models and restricting rewards to recent model years, Drury says.
Loyalty, prestige and pickup trucks
He expects the program to be a success. Consumers whose lifestyles don't call for Dodge pickups or Chrysler minivans can use them as home improvement projects or family visits, respectively, arise.
And those brands may get their own loyalty programs someday. Drury expects that depends on how well Jeep Wave performs.
"Jeep is FCA's No. 1 brand," he says. "It has loyalty and prestige. It makes sense that this is the go-to brand for them. And if you want something other than an SUV, you have to go out of the nameplate."
This opening of a niche brand to other vehicle niches—performance-oriented trucks and prestige-laden sports cars—also may have the horsepower to travel cross-country. As with competing auto subscription plans, industry insiders expect Jeep Wave to launch in limited markets.
Cadillac Book subscriptions are now available in three markets, but Drury said expansion may indicate a reach for better results rather than a celebration of early success.
Important precursor to autonomous car adoption
A national auto subscription program would indicate consumer interest in eventual autonomous car sharing plans, Drury predicts. Other subscription services such as mobile phone plans have lower barriers to product swapping. If Jeep Wave succeeds, "it is a nice indicator that consumers are acclimated to the idea of switching vehicles," he says.
More immediately, "from a loyalty perspective, if you're shopping programs, the idea that you can get a wide range of vehicles, you literally can test the waters all the way up an auto chain, really takes leasing to the next level. It makes this a high conquest play for FCA," he says.
Jeep Wave data also will deliver huge value to FCA. The group will learn where customers come from—within their current base or competitive nameplates—and collect usage trends to understand which of their vehicles are winners, which need some help and which should be retired. "This has huge focus group potential," Drury concludes.
Kelly Shermach is a Reporter at The Wise Marketer.