Subaru of America President Tom Doll isn’t in denial about the inevitability of changing times, but he believes fundamental human needs and wants stay relatively constant.
Accordingly, he’s not completely sold on some vehicle-ownership alternatives that garner a lot of attention these days, including the prospects of ride- and car- sharing all but replacing personal ownership of vehicles.
“Most people still want a long-term relationship with the car or two in their driveway,” he says during a keynote speech kicking off this year’s Chicago Auto Show.
Nine of 10 cars on roads today are personal vehicles, he says, adding the likes of Uber and Lyft are not for everyone, all the time, and Americans drove 3.2 trillion miles in 2016.
Ride-hailing services “got their start with young people in cities,” but as those users get older and have families, they become more interested in owning their own vehicles, he says.
“Can you imagine a woman standing on a corner with her baby and a diaper bag and trying to fit a car seat into an Uber car?” Doll tells WardsAuto after his speech.
Nor is he particularly keen on the prospects of subscription services some automakers and their dealers are trying out. Those include plans in which customers pay a monthly fee to swap in and out of different vehicles.
Subaru currently offers no such service but is studying it.
“We’re looking at different models to see which one might be OK, but we are not into it as much as other OEMs (such as Cadillac, Lincoln and Volvo) are,” he says after his speech.
Although Doll doesn’t believe humans dramatically change from one generation to the next, he describes today’s consumers as tough customers, especially when buying vehicles.
“Customers want everything the world has to offer,” he says. “They want it to work, and work all the time. If you don’t meet their expectations, they move to the competition.”
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