In mid-December, I had the chance to experience a week with Steer EV, a vehicle subscription service that claims to remove all of the hassle from car ownership. Every vehicle you get from Steer is either fully or partially electric.
Though I worked directly with Steer’s leadership team to coordinate this partnership and press loan, I went through the sign-up and vehicle request process like any other member. It was – simply put – a luxurious experience.
Signing Up for Steer EV
Becoming a Steer member was easy. After downloading the app from Apple’s App Store (a version is also available on the Google Play store for Android users), I was up and running in minutes. All Steer members are subjected to a basic credit check as part of the sign-up process.
The final step of sign-up is to link a credit card and pay the one-time $500 membership fee, alongside the monthly fee of whichever membership tier you’ve chosen. I was given a trial of the “Premier” membership, which features luxury makes and models, normally priced at $1,689 per month.
Other membership tiers include “Preferred 3” for $1,089/mo and “Practical Advantage” for $889. All membership tiers are considered all-inclusive, and members only pay for charging and/or fueling the vehicles they drive.
Choosing My Vehicle
After my membership was approved, I was asked to provide the location, date and time where I’d receive my first vehicle from Steer. Steer currently operates Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM, so all drop-offs must occur during that time.
Given I had some afternoon meetings, I asked that the vehicle be brought to my office before lunchtime.
Steer’s app then asked about my experience with EVs and how I’d use the first vehicle. This information is used to pair each member with a vehicle that best suits their needs. While members can request specific makes and models, there is no guarantee that any one vehicle is what you’ll receive.
Receiving My Vehicle
It was a gray, rainy day when the Steer concierge texted me that he was on the way to drop off my car. Twenty minutes later, I rode the escalator downstairs to meet Eric and take delivery of a 2020 Audi E-Tron.
Eric took the time to assess my knowledge and comfort with EVs, then showed me around the basics of the E-Tron. We paired my iPhone to the car, discussed all-things-charging, and parted ways after about ten minutes. I didn’t have many questions beyond the charging process, but he’d have stayed to answer them if I had.
The Week With Steer EV
My review of the 2020 Audi E-Tron has already been posted, but suffice it to say the car was not perfect. It experienced a few electronic gremlins during my care. If I were an actual Steer member, I could have reported the issue through Steer’s app or by calling or texting the concierge hotline. Eric, or another concierge, would have come to swap out my Audi E-Tron for another Audi or similar vehicle. This is one huge perk of Steer’s membership – any problems are handled without any interruption to the member’s schedule.
I also experienced some, uh, challenges with charging the E-Tron. These challenges were entirely due to my own lack of knowledge, combined with finicky equipment at my selected Electrify America charging station. I elected to figure things out as many first-time EV drivers would, but a call or text to Steer would have been the easy way to get help identifying the fastest charging options nearby.
Finally, had I decided the Audi E-Tron wasn’t to my liking, didn’t have enough range for a road trip, or too small for my people- or cargo-hauling needs, a few button-presses in the Steer app would have a different vehicle on the way.
Steer EV Defines Luxury
That heading makes a bold claim. Everyone defines “luxury” differently, though I’d argue it’s hard to consider Steer’s service anything but luxurious. When Eric, my Steer concierge, came to retrieve the Audi, I grilled him a bit on the type of person who’s subscribing to the service. After all, he gets to meet these members, day in and day out.
Per Eric, dealerships often provide sub-par experiences or make the buying process confusing. Some people need a car for the short term, but don’t have the time to buy a car, deal with the DMV, and sell it six months later. Others want to sample new cars often, but avoid the “churn” of fees and taxes that comes with frequent buying and selling. Longer-term members may want to change cars every six months or so, but with no thought to mileage restrictions (Steer does not impose a mileage cap on any of their vehicles).
Steer appeals to all of those personas and more. The uniting aspect of nearly anyone subscribing to Steer, though, is that they are someone who values their time more than anything. Let’s face it – someone looking for the best deal on a new car will just go buy or lease something on their own. But, for people who need a car with zero downtime and the most minute amount of hassle, there’s a case to be made for the extra cost of Steer’s services. The benefits increase if you’re a member who looks to swap vehicles based on need, assuming you view Steer as a way to have access to several vehicles for the cost of “one plus a little more.”
My week with Steer EV was nothing but pleasant. Though I did experience some difficulties with the Audi E-Tron, I knew they’d be swiftly rectified if I were to have the car for any longer period of time. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the E-Tron, and would have asked to try a different vehicle as its replacement, which would be a routine request.
My personal needs in a vehicle aren’t met by any EV on the market right now, which makes a personal Steer membership hard to consider. But, there is certainly a case to be made for the service, and others agree. Based on their success so far, Steer has been teasing the notion of expanding to another city or two this year, and will be expanding their fleet as more EVs hit the market.
Planning on attending the Washington Auto Show this year? Come meet the Steer EV team in person! The 2020 Washington Auto Show runs from January 24 to February 2, 2020. Steer will have space on the top floor of the show, next to the exotic vehicles.