Fiat Chrysler files trademark for 'My Freedom' subscription service

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV could launch a vehicle subscription service, according to a new trademark filing.

The automaker last week registered "MY FREEDOM" for "motor vehicle subscription services, namely, providing temporary use of motor vehicles to members for their personal use," according to the filing. The trademark is now live.

Fiat Chrysler did not immediately comment on the filing.

A subscription service typically offers users access to an automaker's fleet for a flat monthly rate. Maintenance and insurance costs usually are included in the price, which can range from several hundred dollars per month to a few thousand. Industry leaders have indicated such services will be a more important business model in the future as young buyers especially look for flexible transportation and as autonomous vehicles hit the road.

Fiat Chrysler has registered the trademark "My Freedom" for a vehicle subscription service.

The trademark "prepares (FCA) for the future," said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions. "Buyers today tend to be more experience-oriented. As they grow older, their needs will change and their needs for what vehicle they need to have could fluctuate from week to week or month to month. Subscription services should fit that lifestyle. ...The idea that autonomy would prevent the need for your own vehicle leads perfectly into subscriptions."

But Fiat Chrysler's U.S. rivals have struggled to support the offering. General Motors Co.'s Cadillac luxury brand paused its BOOK by Cadillac subscription service in November 2018 after two years, though a new program is expected to debut early this year, according to its website.

And in September, Ford Motor Co. sold Canvas, which offered subscribers access to select Fords and Lincolns. California-based car-rental app Fair purchased Canvas; the Dearborn automaker had acquired the start-up in 2016.

Other programs such as Porsche Passport and Care by Volvo have been more successful.

"The buyers of the higher-end models like Porsche and Volvo are more open to spending a little extra to get a little extra service," Fiorani said. "Cadillac buyers tend to be a little bit older and less in need of change for their vehicle."

It is not clear if a subscription service from Fiat Chrysler would focus on its premium brands like Maserati and Alfa Romeo. But the "Freedom" name is no stranger to the Jeep brand, which offered a limited-edition Freedom Jeep Wrangler SUV as a tribute to U.S. military members for 2020. A few concept vehicles also have displayed the "Freedom" name over the years.

"Jeep has used the name to highlight not being tied down to (paved) roads or regular lifestyles; it fits in perfectly with the Jeep brand," Fiorani said. Subscription services "open you up to the freedom to switch vehicles."

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble