Electric-car subscription services explained
If you need ultimate flexibility or are just a bit of commitment-phobe, then an electric-car subscription could be up your street
Leasing can be a pretty smart way to get behind the wheel of a new electric car, as it limits your up-front commitment to a relatively small deposit, while future-proofing your decision. As you never actually own the car, and because its depreciation (the drop in its value over time) has already been factored into your monthly payments, you can basically avoid any nasty surprises down the line.
It’s a method businesses have used successfully for years, and it's now gaining ground rapidly in the shape of Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) and Personal Contract Hire (PCH) for private users. But what if you don’t want to be locked into a multi-year contract or don’t fancy stumping up a deposit? That’s where car subscription schemes come in, offering greater flexibility while still enabling you to budget easily.
The term ‘subscription’ is only loosely defined in this context, though: such schemes range from manufacturers offering what are effectively zero-deposit leases over flexible periods that enable you to change cars at set intervals, to independent finance companies offering much the same thing. It also includes car-club memberships that give you access to rental vehicles on a pay-as-you-go basis.
While manufacturer subscription schemes undoubtedly remove much of the hassle of car ownership, as maintenance, insurance, breakdown cover, and wear-and-tear are all included in your monthly payment, they can look expensive compared to finance. Independent finance company schemes can be cheaper, but you do need to look closely at what’s included in any particular offer so you can weigh up the value. Remember it’s the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) figure that you need to compare with a subscription quote, although only you can put a price on the flexibility and simplicity that a subscription deal provides.
As for pay-as-you-go schemes, they’re great for city-dwelling drivers who don’t need to use a car often, but of limited use to anyone needing a car on a more regular basis. We’ve rounded up details of some of the range of subscription offers available, so read on to find out more...
Manufacturer electric-car subscription services
Mocean is Hyundai’s all-in-one monthly subscription service for UK customers. Hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric cars are all available on the service, which besides the car also includes insurance, maintenance, road tax and repairs. You also get the option of changing your car after six months, or cancelling your subscription with one month's notice. Prices start from £323 per month for an i20 hybrid, with an Ioniq Electric available from £493 a month. However, that figure can increase depending on your intended mileage and your age, with the latter potentially affecting insurance costs.
Care by Volvo
Volvo offers an in-house subscription product that allows you to drive its XC40 Recharge P8 electric SUV from £579 or C40 coupe-SUV from £589 per month, which includes insurance, maintenance, road tax and vehicle hire – but only if you sign up for 36 months. If you need more flexibility, there’s an option to sign a contract with a 90-day cancellation period, which also allows you to change car every three months, but prices for that start at £729 per month for the XC40, and £719 per month for the C40.
Pivotal (Jaguar and Land Rover)
Jaguar’s subscription scheme is open to drivers of its electric I-Pace, who can get behind the wheel of this premium crossover model for a monthly subscription of between £1,000 and £1,250 a month under the Pivotal Indigo package. There’s a one-off sign-up or activation fee of £550, but the monthly payment is inclusive of vehicle hire and road tax, servicing, breakdown cover and fully comp insurance for two drivers.
You need to commit for at least 90 days, but after that you can change your vehicle every six months. You can pause the scheme, or cancel it at any time by giving at least 14 days notice. Using the Indigo package that means you can swap your I-Pace for a fossil-fuelled Land Rover Discovery, or the Range Rover Velar.
Subscription from Cupra
Cupra is currently operating a pilot subscription service for its new Born EV that allows drivers to rent the electric hatchback directly from the brand for a three-month period. Prices start from £699 a month, which includes insurance, roadside assistance, maintenance, delivery and vehicle hire. You also don't have to put down any deposit, but you cannot rent the cars for longer than 89 days as this is still a pilot scheme for now. If you're enjoying the Cupra Born, you'll need to check if there are more cars available online and sign up for another three-month subscription.
Non-manufacturer electric-car subscription services
Wagonex is a finance company providing subscription deals on a wide range of vehicles from many manufacturers, and electric cars are included too. With nearly new and used vehicles included, you could be looking at a three-year-old Renault ZOE with 16,000 miles on the clock for a figure of £299 per month. Insurance is optional with Wagonex, so prices will vary once you get a quotation to cover your subscription, or you can shop around to find the right deal for you. Prices for the subscription vary depending on how long you want to keep the car, but Wagonex offers great flexibility with a minimum one-month subscription.
Cazoo car subscription (formerly known as Drover)
Cazoo acquired car-subscription company Drover in 2020, and has since absorbed the brand fully under the Cazoo umbrella. They provide drivers with a nearly new or used electric car, with insurance and maintenance included, so all you have to do is charge it up. Prices start at around £420 per month for a Hyundai Kona electric with delivery miles, and they can provide you with a variety of the latest electric cars, including premium options like the BMW iX3 for around £1,250 per month – again with just a handful of miles on the clock. Costs vary depending on subscription length, which can be from 6 to 24 months.
Pay-as-you-go electric-car subscription services
There are a number of pay-as-you-go electric-car hire companies based in the UK. For a fixed monthly membership fee and a per-mile or per-hour charge, you can pick up electric cars parked on the street or at handy locations, and pay only when you use them. This is perfect for people who only need occasional car access.
Previously known as Evezy, Onto is one of the most interesting electric-car hire offerings, as it bridges the gap between short-term car sharing and long-term leasing, which is useful if you need regular access to an electric car without the commitment or cost of ownership. You pay a flat fee; there’s no deposit and no long-term contract, but there’s a delivery and collection cost of £99.50. Mileage is capped at 750 a month (but you can purchase bolt-ons to increase your allowance); insurance, charging and other costs are included. You can swap your car at any time by upgrading or downgrading and the scheme is available nationwide.
The Volkswagen e-up! is the cheapest car available from Onto, starting at £379 per month. The Renault ZOE is £439, the DS 3 Crossback E-TENSE is £569 and the Jaguar I-Pace is £1,299 per month. This is a snapshot of just some of the vehicles available to illustrate the wide spectrum of price points, although there are waiting lists and limited availability for some cars. A partnership between Onto and Vauxhall was announced in early 2022; this has seen the introduction of 700 Corsa-e and Mokka-e models in Elite Premium trim for Onto customers.
As part of the subscription, Onto offers free public charging at over 11,000 locations; these include BP Pulse, Shell Recharge and InstaVolt chargers, while the Tesla Supercharger network is free for drivers of Onto Tesla models. In May 2021, Onto also became the exclusive rental and subscription partner for Fisker; 700 of the brand's Ocean SUVs will be available to Onto customers when it arrives in 2023.
In December 2021 Onto appointed Pod Point as its home-charging partner. This makes Onto subscribers eligible to buy a 7kW Pod Point Solo 3 wallbox at a preferential rate starting from £859 for a Universal or £899 for a tethered charge point, including installation.
Like Onto, rival firm Elmo offers Total Cost of Ownership subscriptions for EVs; its web platform allows customers to add ‘bundles’ to their deal. That means you can choose to tick-in features such as maintenance, insurance, a home wallbox, access to public charging, and even your home energy bill – or choose not to have them. As with Onto, you pay a single monthly charge, but there’s a much more limited selection of cars available. When we looked, the cheapest offering was the MG 5 SW from £441 a month, plus a £95 one-off admin fee.
Co-Wheels Car Club
Co-Wheels is a nationwide operation in over 60 towns and cities offering a pay-as-you-go subscription hire service. Users sign up by paying a £25 joining fee and a £5 monthly fee. You then hire cars by the hour, with prices starting at £5.75 – costs can vary depending on age, however. You can also hire electric vans, and if you’re lucky enough to live in Aberdeen you can even hire a Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car from £7.50 per hour. The scheme doesn’t exclusively offer electric cars, but it does have a substantial fleet of them, including the Nissan Leaf, Renault ZOE, Vauxhall Corsa-e, BMW i3, MG ZS and MG 5.
The biggest car-sharing club in the UK has a fleet of electric cars in London, and they cost from 31p a minute or £14 an hour to hire for short journeys around the capital. You have to sign up for membership of Zipcar first – three plans are available; a basic membership costs £10 to sign up for, but with no monthly cost, Smart plans cost £6 per month and it’s £15 per month for the Plus. Each membership offers a different cost per hour of driving, with the Plus plan more suited to regular users of the service. Zipcar doesn’t expect members to charge up its Volkswagen e-Golfs or Vauxhall Corsa-es; it takes care of that overnight, which means you need to check the charge levels of any available cars using the app before booking.
Enterprise Car Club
The Enterprise Car Club is designed for drivers who don’t need a car full-time, but pay a membership fee monthly to access a fleet of more than 1,400 shared vehicles across the UK on an hourly or daily basis. Membership rates range from £2 to £20 per month, depending on the membership type and location, and the more you pay the lower your hourly hire rate – rates vary widely across vehicle types. Access to its fleet of electric vehicles depends on your location, but options include the Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Renault ZOE and Vauxhall Corsa-e.
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