Similar to a Netflix subscription, now you can enjoy the convenience of an electric car on a monthly subscription. While not everyone is doing it yet, many players are getting in on this, including the big car manufacturers, so it’s likely that many more of us will forego the depreciation and extra costs that go with ‘owning’ an electric car.
With a car subscription, you have the freedom to drive a vehicle for as long as you want, starting from a month by month agreement. There may be no initial fee or only a small charge to sign up, and you can easily terminate the contract or switch to a different car, subject to the supplier’s conditions.
Unsurprisingly, electric vehicle (EV) customers have been pioneers in car subscriptions, dipping a toe in first, with a large majority continuing to drive EVs long after their initial subscription period ends.
Several companies are offering something that promises the convenience of Netflix when it comes to getting you behind the wheel. Here we get the lowdown on how electric car subscriptions compare.
1.Elmo: Easy Electric Car Subscription Service
Elmo, now part of the cinch car chain, is a dedicated electric car subscription service. It welcomes drivers aged 25 and above, and all prices include the monthly cost of the vehicle, comprehensive insurance, breakdown cover, and road tax (although this is already free for EVs).
Elmo gets favourable reviews for its customer service, with a Trustpilot rating of 4.6 out of 5 based on 316 reviews.
Elmo offers two subscription levels: Flex and Save. Flex is designed for customers seeking shorter-term car rentals (with a minimum of 60 days) or those who prefer to change their cars frequently. Save provides roughly a 10% discount on the monthly fee but requires a minimum 12-month commitment. There is a delivery fee of £119, and the same fee applies when requesting collection.
Digging into the detail: Elmo still requires a 30-day notice to swap cars or end the subscription after the minimum term.
What about charging with an Elmo EV subscription?
As part of the package, Elmo provides elmoCharge, an EV charging card that allows you to access over 20,000 charging points with just one card and receive a single monthly invoice.
This feature will sound good to EV drivers who otherwise download multiple apps or collect cards from different charging networks, or end up paying a little more to pay for charging with contactless.
When you get your car, your charging card can be found in the glovebox. Simply download a single app from Partner Paua, set it up, and tap the card on a charge point. You’ll be able to use various popular charger networks such as Osprey, mfg, Ionity, and FastNed. However, not all networks are included, notably motorway-based Gridserve. Charging costs vary depending on the network.
Top tip: Even if you aren’t already an Octopus Energy customer, you can obtain an Electroverse card that allows you to charge with the same bunch of networks and adds it directly to your home energy bill and offers discounts, particularly after 7pm.
How many miles are included with Elmo EV subscriptions?
The subscription includes 800 miles per month, which can be rolled over throughout your subscription. Extra miles are available at a cost based on a percentage of your subscription fee. For instance, if you drive a Fiat 500e Icon and wish to increase your mileage to 1,000 miles per month, you would pay an additional 5% of £449, which amounts to £22.45 per month.
The insurance excess details are not provided on the website, but reducing it to £250 can cost as little as £15 per month. Consider opting for a third-party insurance provider like Swinton’s Car Hire Excess offering, as the £1000 excess could pose a significant risk
Elmo has something for everyone, with 23 different EV models from ten manufacturers. It offers popular models such as the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2, as well as compact options like the Fiat 500e, all available for under £500 per month (June 2023), inclusive of all costs.
How much is a Renault Zoe on Elmo?
For example, a Renault Zoe 52kWh is advertised at a total monthly cost of £499 on the 60-day Flex plan, or £449 on the 12-month elmoSave plan, both with a monthly mileage allowance of 800 miles.
What features make Elmo unique?
Elmo has expanded into salary sacrifice schemes, making it up to 60% cheaper to drive your electric vehicle. The process is simple: you pay for an all-inclusive EV subscription through your employer by allocating a portion of your pre-tax salary. Again, there is no upfront deposit required, and the setup is fast and convenient, providing an all-inclusive package.
Elmo also offers a physical key for your car, adding a traditional touch to the driving experience.
Pros and Cons of Elmo Electric Car Subscriptions
✔ Ideal for those ready to commit to a one-year subscription
✔ Salary sacrifice option offers significant savings for EV subscriptions
✔Traditional physical key provided with the car
✘ Watch out for hidden details such as collection fees and the 30-day notice requirement
You may prefer Elmo if:
– You are a high-mileage driver
– You have experience with electric cars and are ready to commit to a 12-month subscription
2. Onto: Flexible Electric Car Subscriptions
Onto is another dedicated electric car subscription service that again requires no upfront deposit. You can choose from a range of models, including both new and up to three-year-old vehicles, with delivery available within just 72 working hours. There is no setup fee, but a speedy delivery charge of £129.50 applies. Onto does better for life’s swappers – short-term one-month rentals are possible, and you can swap your car for a fee of £79.50.
What about charging with an Onto EV subscription?
By default, access to certain UK public charging points via BP Pulse, Shell, and Tesla superchargers is included in the subscription. However, in most cases, it may be more cost-effective to remove this feature and save £40 per month.
Charging only includes a select few reliable networks such as Shell and Tesla (for Tesla vehicle drivers), while access to beloved Instavolt locations incurs an expensive additional charge of £120 per month. It is generally recommended to use contactless payment methods and avoid limiting oneself to this specific group of networks.
To make the all-inclusive charging option worthwhile, you would need to charge around 160 miles per month. If you have access to charging facilities at home or work, it may be more beneficial to forgo this option.
EV Subscription top tip
Join a route planning & EV charging service. For example, even if you aren’t an Octopus Energy customer, you can obtain an Electroverse card (share £10 when you use this link) that allows you to charge with the same bunch of networks and adds it directly to your home energy bill and offers discounts, particularly after 7pm.
For those willing to drive a branded Onto car, a Fiat 500 can be obtained for as low as £359 per month in London and Southeast regions, excluding charging costs.
Onto gets some great reviews for customer service, but scores only 3.9 on Trustpilot from nearly 3000 reviews. Most of the negative comments are to do with the restricted all-inclusive charging, which has now been made an optional add on.
Insurance is included for one person (aged 25 and above). The excess is initially set at £1000, but a bolt-on option of £25 per month can be added to reduce it to £350. The subscription and access to the car are managed through a dedicated app on your phone, which also acts as the key to the vehicle. The Onto range includes models starting from the Renault Zoe and extends to Audis, Jaguar and Teslas.
How many miles are included with Onto EV subscriptions?
Onto subscriptions come with an allocation of 750 miles per month. Additional miles can be purchased in 250-mile increments, starting at £70, or you can opt to pay a mileage excess fee of at least 40p per mile. Any unused credits roll over to your next car if you choose to swap, but only within the same tier.
You’ll get a physical key, but can also unlock and drive the car through an app. Onto recommend you open the app and download your key every day (while connected to a Wi-Fi or mobile network).
How much is a Renault Zoe through Onto?
A comparable Renault Zoe with a 54kWh battery is available for £509 per month with a minimum commitment of one month, excluding charging costs.
You may prefer Onto if:
– You value a flexible subscription arrangement
– You anticipate frequent car swaps
– You want the flexibility to cancel your car subscription on short notice
– You are new to electric cars and just want to try them out
Choosing between Onto and Elmo: Which electric car subscription service is best for you?
No matter which service you choose, there are always some canny ways to save:
- Add a third party insurance excess reduction (as long as you get billed on a month-by-month basis
- Forget the charging add-ons
- Do your research and get the right car for you first time. Swapping sounds great, but preparing a car for swapping takes effort.
- Learn how to charge like a pro
3. EZoo: Pay-as-You-Go EV Subscription
EZoo is a smaller pay-as-you-go EV subscription scheme, similar to Elmo and Onto. It offers a range of EVs, from compact models like the VW e-UP to larger vehicles such as the Tesla Model 3.
Subscriptions start from just one month and include insurance, breakdown and maintenance coverage, as well as an allocation of 800 miles per month. After signing up, you can arrange to collect the car yourself or have it delivered to you upon request.
The website is user-friendly, providing clear and straightforward steps to follow. The insurance excess is set at £1000.
EZoo gets a high 4.5 Trustpilot score, but from only a small handful of reviewers:
Additional drivers can be added at a cost of £10 per month. Delivery incurs a charge of £1.80 per mile from Coventry or Glasgow depots. At the end of your subscription term, you have the option to switch to a different car.
A similar Renault Zoe is available for £475 per month through EZoo, but a £500 deposit and joining fees of £120 apply.
You may prefer EZoo if:
– You have £500 for a security deposit
– You live near Coventry or Glasgow (cheap delivery)