Interview: mycardirect’s Ian Bristow

By: Milena Parno Christian Jansen
Last update 28. April 2023 Reading time 4:05 min
Ian Bristow, Marketing Executive at mycardirect

Ian Bristow, Marketing Executive at mycardirect (Image: mycardirect)

In a recent interview with Milena Parno and Christian Jansen, Ian Bristow, Marketing Executive at mycardirect, offers a comprehensive overview of the present and future state of car subscriptions, highlighting potential growth opportunities in the UK.

How long has your company been in business, and how did it come to be?

Mycardirect was established in 2020 during the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic. We are part of the larger AAM Group, and established by long term auto industry professionals including CEO Duncan Chumley. The driving idea behind mycardirect was to create a seamless, all-inclusive online car subscription service with access to the expansive AAM Group fleet.

Who are your target customers/audience?

Our target customer is anyone who needs to get from A to B, but more specifically, motorists that prize flexibility, and want the hassle taken out of using their car. Drivers who are in and out of the country on a regular basis, drivers who want to try out different cars, and drivers who don’t want to mess about organising all the troublesome extra costs of car use.

How does your car subscription service differ from other providers’ offerings?

Genuinely excellent customer support. Our team is dedicated and experienced, we build a real relationship with our subscribers, and learn their needs – just read our reviews on Google.
We also offer free delivery anywhere in the mainland UK, we have customers from the tip of Cornwall to the top of Scotland as a result.

What makes and models of cars are available for the car subscription?

We offer everything from a Ford Fiesta up to a Ferrari. Our team has access to an enormous fleet, and extensive connections which allow us to source just about anything. We stock an extensive range of premium vehicles, particularly Mercedes, BMW, Tesla and Audi. Popular models include the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C Class, Kia Sportage, Tesla Model Y, and of course the Mini.

In which countries are you currently operating, and are you planning to expand in the future?

We operate purely in the UK at the moment, but are eyeing an expansion into the USA in the future.

Has the market been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, semiconductor crisis, and the war in Ukraine?

Yes, we’ve been affected by these crises just like everybody else, and the supply shocks haven’t been kind. Occasionally the turbulent winds have blown in our favour; when dealerships were closed in the UK subscribers could still order online, and with lots of models being delayed due to geopolitical crises, we became a popular option for drivers who needed a car for several months while they awaited their order – some went on to cancel their orders and stick with us.

How do you anticipate the car subscription market evolving over the next five years?

Car subscription is obviously a growth market, and I foresee 2 major disruptions; the entrance of every major marque with their own proprietary car subscription service, and the public really waking up to what electrification means. As subscription becomes a more popular and mainstream product offering, OEMs will invariably want a slice of the pie, and will wield their considerable resources and brand recognition to attract loyal customers. Care by Volvo and Pivotal by JLR are the prime examples for now, but there are plenty of motorists who are already committed to driving a BMW or say an Alfa for the rest of their lives, all-inclusive subscription is a logical next step in building cradle to grave loyalty.

With regard to electrification all new cars sold in the UK will have to be electric by 2030, lots of drivers already think their next vehicle will be electric, but the upfront cost remains high, and they hold value poorly. Just look at the UK’s most popular electric vehicle in 2018; it was a Nissan Leaf which could manage 150 miles of real world range, last year the UK’s most popular EV was a Tesla which could do double that mileage. Over the course of a standard 4 year lease the EV market has seen a step change, and will do so again. It no longer makes sense to buy or traditionally lease an EV due to the rate of technological change, once consumers realise this the subscription market will explode.

What are the terms and conditions of your car subscription contracts?

Subscribers can swap, return, and extend on a monthly basis. Subscribers supply their own insurance, and must supply us with proof of ID, proof of address, and proof of affordability before the start of the subscription.

Can customers renew their contracts without changing their cars?

Yes, our subscriptions start with a one month rolling contract which will auto renew unless the subscriber cancels the contract. Customers can typically extend as much as they like, although particularly old models may eventually have to be returned and taken off the road.

Can customers switch between different cars within their car subscription?

Of course they can, subscribers can swap from one vehicle to another from month to month.

Do you offer new or used cars for your car subscription service?

We offer both, most of our cars arrive new, and are new when they first go out to a subscriber. Subscription is by its very nature flexible, so a subscriber could order a new car, return it after one month, and it would then go out as a used car to the next subscriber.

What is the process for booking, picking up, and returning the car?

We employ an all online booking process using the Wagonex platform, users can browse our fantastic range of cars, place their order and upload their documents securely all in one place. Once the subscriber is approved, we typically arrange delivery over the phone, once a date and time are locked in the subscriber signs their contract and sends us their insurance before delivery. We offer free delivery anywhere in the UK mainland, but subscribers are also welcome to pick up their vehicle from one of our branches.

Are the cars serviced regularly, and how do you ensure their quality and safety?

All of our vehicles are regularly serviced, and servicing is included with the subscription while the vehicle is out to customers. All of our cars are professionally inspected before they go out to customers, we professionally valet all of our vehicles to ensure their road worthiness, and that they reach the subscriber looking good as new.

Do you provide a free replacement vehicle when the car is in the workshop or undergoing general inspection?

No, our subscribers are based all over the country, and it is not feasible for us to provide them with a courtesy car while it is off the road for general maintenance.

April 27th 2023