Ford, although a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to the “cars on demand” idea, actually seems to be making it work with their Canvas car subscription service. Ford says during the past year, Canvas has “seen significant milestones” during its initial roll out phase in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
Just to get some persnickety details out of the way, Canvas is actually a division of Ford Motor Credit Company and not the car company itself. That makes sense, since the car company wants to sell cars and Ford Motor Credit Company deals with, duh, the money end of things. Canvas is a straightforward and adaptable way to have access to a car that falls somewhere between daily rentals and traditional leasing or buying. Think of Canvas as Ford’s in-house version of a longer term Zip Car and you’ll get the picture. With Canvas you don’t have to hassle with all the other stuff like insurance, warranty, maintenance, and those sorts of things.
So here we are a year later and Canvas is serving 600 customers in the San Francisco Bay and west Los Angeles areas. And not resting on their laurels, Canvas has added more features, like allowing for the addition of multiple drivers and accepting flexible mileage packages. So far Canvas drivers have driven more than 3 million miles.
This is all thanks to the way Canvas works. Canvas customers (subscribers, actually) have access to a vehicle 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, just like it were their own car. Customers pay a bundled monthly subscription fee that covers a preferred mileage package. Essentially, you tell them how much you think you’re going to be driving and they charge you accordingly. That monthly subscription fee also gets you comprehensive insurance, a warranty, maintenance, and roadside assistance.
Monthly subscription packages start at $400 depending on the vehicle you choose and other options. And you get all this through the Canvas website, where you can pick out your vehicle, mileage package, delivery location, and all that. When you’re ready to return your car, you simply give seven days notice and Canvas will actually come by pick up your vehicle at a convenient location. Neat, no?
Canvas was also smart enough to work closely with its first customers, the proverbial “early adopters,” to understand how people are using their vehicles, then refine the entire experience to better meet customer needs in the future. All of this adds up to offering a wide range of Ford Motor Company models. After launching with just two models, Canvas now gets you everything from compact cars to SUVs (handy for long trips) to trucks (handy for moving stuff, home projects, and such).
Canvas has also allowed for more personalized packages. You can now create more options to better customize your service, including the ability to add multiple drivers to an account, which half of Canvas customers have already done. There are also new mileage packages that allow you to adjust your mileage up or down as often as needed, even in the middle of a month.
“Building on our success in 2017, we plan to further expand our platform and offerings in 2018 to meet even more customer needs,” said Canvas Founder and CEO Ned Ryan. “As our product evolves over the coming year and beyond, we’ll be focused on adding more customization to the platform, implementing solutions to improve the scalability of the business, and offering bigger savings for customers who want longer terms.”
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.