Clutch, is a Buckhead-based startup located on Piedmont Road, with an innovative new business model that could make car ownership obsolete for some clients. Clutch subscribers pay a monthly fee to have the latest mid-level luxury cars, SUVs and trucks delivered to their exact location. Clutch offers a subscription car service that lets members “flip” their car for a different one at any time, ensuring they are driving the perfect car for the perfect moment.
For a monthly fee, drivers can request a flip through the Clutch app at any time for any situation, say Weekend Adventure or Luxury Date Night, and a detailed, fueled car will be delivered right to the user’s location within a short window of time. The fleet of cars comes from the current or prior model year, unless you get the rare treat of a classic car.
It’s a subscription model that appeals to those looking for convenience, luxury and a wealth of options, which Clutch President Vince Zappa says contributes to the most unique experience a car connoisseur can have.
“People love cars. With Clutch’s monthly subscription service, our members have access to classics, SUVs, luxury cars and one-of-a-kind rides that help create unique experiences,” said Zappa. The two tiers of cars offered by Clutch come at monthly price levels of $850 and $1300 (think Toyota 4Runner vs Porsche SUV).
The company has been operating in Buckhead in the last few years, and the service hasn’t yet expanded outside of Atlanta’s perimeter. Clutch avoided answering questions about how large their current user base is or how fast they are growing, but they have deep financial backing. The company was birthed out of Kenzie Lane Innovation, run by serial Buckhead entrepreneur Tripp Rackley. In 2013 Rackley was given $250 million to invest in new companies, in a partnership with Cox Enterprises where he serves on the board.
“Clutch is a Buckhead company. It’s home and we like working locally. Buckhead is also an economic nexus point for Atlanta and the Southeast. Additionally, Buckhead offers a great mix of consumers and businesses that are likely to be interested in Clutch,” added Zappa.
Buckhead real estate broker & entrepreneur, Ben Hirsh, is a recent subscriber. Hirsh began using the service when he sold a car in wait for a new Tesla and needed a car in the meantime. He describes it as a viral business model.
“People are constantly asking me why I have a new car. It’s inherently contagious because you’re kind of forced to talk about it. ” noted Hirsh. Hirsh also acknowledged the value it provides to users outside of the app’s initial offering.
“You never own a Clutch car, so you never have the tax and insurance and repair costs. It isn’t necessarily a cheaper option compared to leasing, but it all adds up when you’re the owner of a car. Instead of owning the car for 12 years, you have the option to use different cars anytime,” said Hirsh.
This on-demand system of car hopping is right on time for Atlantans and Buckhead, in particular. As Clutch strives to break the traditional method of car buying, younger populations looking for options, luxury, convenience and the latest in auto trends are swarming into Buckhead.
“Clutch is a unique business that’s situated right in the heart of Buckhead. How does something like this change life for anyone? It’s a matter of flexibility and convenience that breaks the traditional method of buying a car, driving it for a decade and repeating the cycle for a lifetime. Society is trending toward a model of instantaneous luxury. As we see more apartment buildings come up in Buckhead with thousands of units, we know a lot of those will be occupied by young people who gravitate toward this type of service.”
It’s a particularly beneficial service for travelers who divide time among different cities. Subscribers can pause their subscription when they leave town and resume upon return with a new car.
As Clutch works to create more word-of-mouth around its existing user base, be prepared to see more and more car enthusiasts catch on in Atlanta.
“A large portion of our new members have come to us through word-of-mouth referrals from existing Clutch customers. We expect that to amplify in Atlanta as more consumers realize there is an alternative to traditional car ownership,” said Zappa.
Subscribers are sometimes treated to a Classic model. Users cannot request specific cars, but it’s suspected that Clutch will sometimes surprise a subscriber with one of these beauties on their birthday.