Choosing a new car is an exciting, but equally lengthy process. There are lots of factors to weigh up when trying to choose between electric and fuel vehicles, let alone the various makes and models to pick from. You’ve also got to consider the long-term costs of expenses such as insurance and regular services. These extras can all add up and cost you significantly more, especially as the car ages.
Within the first three years, new cars can lose over half of their original market value. This staggering decrease in price can make you wonder whether buying a brand new car is a viable option for your financial situation. The prestige of owning a new car can often be outweighed by the accompanying depreciation of the vehicle.
As luck would have it, buying new or used cars isn’t your only choice. In the last few years, more and more people are turning to car subscription services to find their next vehicle. In this guide, we’ll explain the reason why subscriptions can work better for you than traditional purchases and the options that are available.
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What is a car subscription?
A car subscription service provides you with temporary ownership of a car in return for a regular contracted payment. The service acts as a flexible alternative to car ownership as it offers various contract options on a short-term basis. Depending on how often you would like to change your car, you can sign a contract lasting anywhere from one to 24 months.
Electric car subscription services are inclusive of maintenance costs, road tax, breakdown cover and regular services. Insurance policies can often be included in the package for an additional fee, or alternatively, you can stay with your own insurance provider.
In addition to the ease of bundled payments, car subscription services also offer a range of car models and brands to choose from. You can pick a vehicle based on preferences such as fuel type, colour and size.
Continue reading for more information on what a car subscription entails and how it can benefit you.
Are electric car subscriptions cheaper than leasing?
Generally, car subscriptions are more expensive than leasing. Why is that? Well, a subscription includes additional services that a lease contract does not. Some things covered in the monthly subscription include breakdown cover and maintenance costs. Another popular feature of car subscriptions is that they offer far more flexibility than a lease, and don’t tie you down to a long term deal.
As well as this, electric cars are more expensive to subscribe to than petrol cars. This is because they’re not yet being mass-produced at a fast rate and therefore the supply doesn’t correlate with the high demand. The cost of the car’s battery is the main source of expense as they are made using rechargeable lithium-ion and that also increases the price tag on electric cars.
Despite this, electric cars are generally cheaper to run as they cost less to charge than a petrol car would take to fill with fuel, and so they can save you money in the long run. On top of that, some subscription companies include charging in their subscription cost, so you are practically driving for free.
What is car leasing?
Car leases follow a similar concept to subscriptions, except they generally involve longer fixed contracts. Contract lengths can vary from a couple of years up to around four or five years. Similar to renting a house, you won’t own the car at the end of the contract and it will return to the dealership.
You’ll have to pay a large deposit before you start your leasing contract, as well as regular maintenance checks throughout your contracted term. The frequency and cost of the maintenance services will depend on the model and age of the car.
The overall price you get charged for a leased car will vary depending on the car’s make and model, as well as the mileage you are expecting to do. Cars will decrease in value as they get older and do more miles, which is why the leasing company will charge you to compensate for the amount they will lose in depreciation.
Lease contracts come attached to a mileage limit (somewhere in the region of 10,000 per year). You may be able to afford a car that would be otherwise too expensive to buy, but you won’t own the vehicle by the end of the deal.
Are car subscriptions better value than leasing?
Car subscriptions are more expensive than leasing because you’re paying for the luxury of a short contract and all-inclusive bills. When you lease a car, you will likely pay a deposit upfront, as well as VAT and additional maintenance fees, but the monthly payment will be cheaper than that of a subscription service.
Subscription services allow you to change your car more frequently and they give you the ease of paying one lump sum for the overall care and insurance of your car. In order to properly compare the price of a subscription with a car lease, you would need to add up the additional bills that aren’t included in a car lease and compare them to the total subscription fee.
Using a subscription service rather than a car leasing agency means that you can rent a car for as little as one month and you won’t be trapped into long-term contracts. There’s also the option to regularly change the make or model of the car, which is especially important for electric vehicles as the technology is evolving so quickly.
Is there an upfront payment for car subscriptions?
Some car subscription services require a refundable deposit before you start your car subscription. This will be expected in addition to the first month’s fees and will be due on the contracted agreement date. However, some subscription services may ask for the payment to be paid on the day your vehicle is delivered to you.
Your monthly payment date will be billed on the same day that you paid your deposit or the first month’s payment. A contract will be formed between either the car manufacturer or the company providing the subscription once your order has been accepted and your car delivered.
Monthly subscriptions can usually be cancelled at any time – provided you give at least a week before the contract renews. You will still have to pay your first payment in advance of the first month you have the car.
The subscription cost will likely include the delivery of the vehicle to your property. You may be able to choose to collect the car from a pickup point if you would rather that than a delivery.
Do I own the car after the subscription?
The joy of an electric car subscription means that you’re not tied to a particular car. You can choose a new car once your current contract has ended. This does mean, however, that you won’t own the car once the subscription contract has reached its contracted end date.
You can choose a shorter contract if you’re not sure about a specific car, or you can opt to sign up for a couple of years if you want it for an extended period. You can choose from a brand new electric car or a nearly new car for each subscription contract.
Typically, your monthly contract will be renewed until you terminate it. Six-monthly and yearly contracts will run for the full term and then you will be given the chance to pick a new car and contract or continue with the current vehicle.
Which manufacturers are at the forefront of electric vehicle subscriptions?
Several companies offer electric cars through subscription services. You can filter the type of car you want via the make, model, colour and contract length. Certain factors will affect the cost of the contract, including how many miles you are expected to drive and the model of the car.
Cars will come with a choice of monthly mile packages, such as 1,000 to 2,000 miles. An additional rate may be charged to the contracted monthly amount if you opt for a mileage package that is over a certain amount. This can vary between cars but will be clearly stated on the subscription service website.
Volvo is the only brand that offers car subscriptions directly, although you can use third-party services such as Wagonex and Onto to subscribe to a range of electric vehicles from various car manufacturers.
This German car manufacturer has been a lead runner in the car market for over 100 years. As technology and cars have evolved, BMW has developed a range of electric vehicles. In fact, the company has been developing electric cars through research and testing over the past 40 years.
BMW electric cars feature eDrive technology (powered by a high-voltage lithium-ion battery) and a sleek interior and exterior finish. The vehicles all come with an automatic transmission, which allows for an easier and smoother driving experience.
One of the most recognisable names in the car industry, Mercedes-Benz has an extensive range of both fuel and electric cars.
Every Mercedes electric car is fitted with various driving modes that can achieve maximum driving range, performance and balance. The cars are also fitted with an optimised navigation system that makes the driving experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. There’s also the option to set the temperature in the car whilst it’s charging, using the Mercedes Me app.
Tesla has grown massively in popularity over recent years. There are a number of electric cars in the Tesla range, such as the Model S, which was named UK Car of the Year in 2020. Tesla offers both short and long-range vehicles, the latter of which features a large battery that can reach over 350 miles in one charge.
Every Tesla comes with features such as a tinted glass roof, heated front seats, sat-nav and aircon. You can even use your mobile phone to unlock the doors. The added bonus of an electric engine is that the cars drive along in near silence.
The Swedish car manufacturer, Volvo has a number of electric cars featured in its range. Volvo cars have built-in Google to assist you and make each journey more enjoyable. As well as making improvements to the battery, electric cars have also seen upgrades to the interior, such as 100% leather-free seats and smart storage solutions.
Most electric cars are best suited to city driving as they have easy access to electric charging points and lower average speed limits. Volvo’s electric cars can have a range of up to 260 miles (in ideal conditions). However, it is possible to drive an electric car over a longer distance, as long as you have planned for charging stops along the route.
The Volvo phone app allows you to preheat your car, as well as set air conditioning. The built-in Google system can also advise you on the best routes, as well as nearby charging stations. Charging times can depend on how full the battery is to start with, as well as the mileage you have driven. Temperatures, especially outdoor and battery, can have an effect on the charging efficiency.
Car subscriptions are a cost-efficient alternative to the traditional process of buying a vehicle outright. You can choose from a variety of car models and brands to find a vehicle that best suits you and your lifestyle. Whether you want a family car for a summer break or just want to try something sportier, there’s plenty of options to satisfy.
There is a range of car subscription services that can offer you contract lengths from a few months up to a couple of years. After the end of each contract, you can select a new vehicle and sign on for a new set period.
Frequently Asked Questions
You will likely be charged a fee to end your subscription contract early, although the amount will depend on the service provider and their policy on subscription cancellation. If you are unsure whether you can commit to a car for an extended length of time, it might be worth signing up for a short pay-as-you-go monthly subscription service. This will mean that the subscription will auto-renew after each month unless you cancel it.