Updated November 2023
Car subscriptions are an excellent way to get the car you want, when you want it. You can choose from a range of car options that suit your needs and budget. Not only this, car subscriptions also come with car insurance included in the monthly fee. This means that there is no need to worry about car insurance bills or keeping up with payments for other services like fuel or parking. Car subscriptions are perfect for people who would prefer not to own their own cars because they do not have enough space at home or simply cannot afford one!
Car subscriptions are expected to account for almost 10% of all new automobile sales in the US and Europe by 2025, according to market analysts. They’re being pitched as the next big thing, comparable to pay-as-you-go phones or internet television plans, with a predicted penetration rate of 9 percent in the United States and 8 percent in Europe.
Subscription plans are often referred to as “flexible leases” or “rental agreements.” A long-term rental is a vehicle that you can borrow for an extended period of time, such as a year or more. From one month to several years, the vehicle will be yours. There’s either no cost or only a minimal fee to join.
You’ll have the freedom to go wherever you want, when you want. You can choose your driving style and receive a monthly mileage allowance (typically 800 or 1,000 miles) or buy more distance. In theory, subscriptions promise no obligation, no commitment, and no surprise expenses.
Why is it different from traditional leasing?
Personal contract hire (PCH) arrangements are typically for one to four years, with a pre-payment that can cover the first several months. Insurance and maintenance aren’t included, but they may be purchased separately. Subscriptions usually do not include any joining fees or a one-time charge that is less than a month’s hire.
There is no way to acquire the vehicle with either a subscription or lease. When the term expires, you hand the vehicle back. A contract for service is not the same as a personal contract purchase (PCP), which is a fixed-term financing arrangement that includes the option of keeping the car at the end in return for one final payment.
Subscriptions generally include servicing, manufacturer warranty, road tax, and, in some cases, car insurance.
If your vehicle reaches its mileage limit and must be sold, a subscription service might swap it for a comparable type. If, for example, your car has exceeded its mileage limit and needs to be replaced, the subscription company may switch you to a similar car. The whole procedure of putting together the subscription package may be completed online with live chat or through an app on your smartphone.
The Positives of a Car Subscription
The most significant advantages will be the lack of a long-term financial commitment and the smaller initial payment. You may start and stop a subscription at any time; for example, if you don’t need a vehicle for a while. It’s difficult and costly to terminate a fixed-term lease, PCH, or PCP loan early, especially if you have negative equity.
For many, paying only for the costs of your vehicle and not for maintenance or other fees is appealing. A subscription offers pretty much the same experience as a company car and all the support that comes with it, because it includes all of your motoring expenses into one monthly payment. This could be paid for on a subscription if you are given a business
Subscription cars are typically brand-new or are a maximum of three years old and, if you’re a car lover, some services allow you to swap and test the newest versions or rent a sports vehicle over the summer period.
The Negatives of a Car Subscription
There are a number of different restrictions depending on the car. To join Cazoo (mixed brands), for example, you must be at least 25 and possess a valid UK driver’s license for at least a year. Even stricter criteria apply in other countries; you won’t be able to get into a Land Rover or Jaguar unless you’re at least 30 years old under the Passport program.
There are several options for car insurance. Some cover you under a fleet insurance policy, while others allow you to pick a headline price without insurance and then discover a larger monthly cost after submitting your information for a quote. There may be extra drivers fees, since not all companies provide worldwide coverage and there can be significant excesses if the vehicle is damaged.
Most providers allow you to use your own insurance policy, but it must be comprehensive and must be authorised by them. Also, if your car subscription provider has a fleet policy, you are not a named driver, so you won’t earn any no-claims bonuses for future insurance.
If you reside in a city or town and use an annual resident’s parking permit to park your vehicle on the street, you will face a lot of difficulties. The more frequently you switch your car, the more paperwork you’ll have to deal with in order to alter the registration number and show that the vehicle is affiliated with your address.
Although the contract lengths and conditions are generally shorter and more adaptable than with traditional leasing, there will almost certainly be hefty penalty costs if you want to cancel your agreement early with certain car subscription services. Check the T&Cs and the minimum amount of time you need to keep the cars in order to obtain the advertised price.
What types of subscriptions are available?
There are a variety of different services from vehicle manufacturers, independents, fleet and rental organisations. These are some UK-based examples with current pricing as of November 2023.
In 2020, Volvo’s Care by Volvo subscription became available in the United Kingdom. Customers may pick any model from the current Volvo range (built to order or from stock) and build their monthly package on an app before trialing it out for 30 days.
There is no sign-up fee and a three-month rolling contract kicks in after that. There is no insurance coverage, and the rates range from £559 to £799.
Cocoon Vehicles is a family-owned and -operated business based in Derbyshire that offers monthly car subscriptions from one to twelve months, as well as seasonal subscriptions. It does not sell insurance but its range of vehicles is of a premium standard.
They offer both flexible and fixed short-term options with the Car Subscription model being advertised as Flexible Car Leases and Long-Term Car Rental. Short-Term Car Leases are also available. Prices start from £499 per month based on a minimum qualifying period of 90 days.
With ONTO now out of the frame, elmo have elevated themselves as one of the premier suppliers of all-electric car subscriptions in the UK. Backed by a major company, their choice of vehicles is excellent and you can take a car from 60 days or unlock discounts by committing to 12 months.
All of the usual suspects are listed on their available vehicles including the Tesla Model Y, Renault Zoe, MG ZS and Nissan Leaf. Comprehensive insurance is included with all of their car subscriptions. Pricing starts from £386.00 per month based on an MG ZS EV on a 12-month car subscription.
Pivotal is a car subscription service from Land Rover and Jaguar, as you can guess these are all vehicles from the current JLR line-up and is an excellent way to drive their latest cars without the long-term commitment.
Latest vehicles include the recently refreshed Range Rover Sport and the LR Defender, there are also plug-in Hybrid options available for an additional £200 per month.
Prices currently start from £950 per month and you only need to commit for a minimum of 90 days.
Drive Car Flex offers a range of flexible car subscriptions for the Yorkshire region, with their Leeds-based vehicles their premium car brands include Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen as well as quite a few in-between.
They also offer a range of short-term car leases and although Drive Car Flex is marketed in the Yorkshire region, they can delivery to England, Wales and Scotland.
Prices start from £429 per month for a VW Polo Manual, delivery is included in England & Wales if you take the vehicle for a minimum qualifying period.
Is it cheaper to lease or buy a subscription?
It’s not simple to compare the cost of a lease or a PCP because they’re two distinct services with differing pricing. It’s more important to look at the overall cost of ownership (TCO) after you’ve included all of the expenses associated with driving it.
The bargain is in the fact that you are not making a long-term financial commitment and can drive and park any automobile when you like, rather than having to keep one for an extended length of time.
Overall a car subscription is an excellent way of running a vehicle if you require flexibility and also like the idea of one payment leaving your bank account which covers all of the motoring essentials.
It is difficult to compare costs and it’s really important to get into the nitty-gritty of the terms and conditions. Some of the car subscription companies listed above may require a 2-year commitment to get the best deal. Others just require 90 days.
Use our website to compare the costs of a car subscription and use the links to get in touch with the provider.