If you want to drive a new electric car, but you don’t want to buy or lease one, there’s another solution: an electric car subscription. This means that you can have one of the very latest electric cars without needing a big lump of cash for an outright purchase, or without the need for a long-term commitment and/or the advance payment that is typically required for a lease.
Such a service is offered by Onto (formerly evezy), and we’ve tried it. This is a story about how it worked (it’s really simple) (and really good). And make sure you keep reading to the breaking news at the very end.
So, to drive one of the latest EVs, firstly you download the Onto app. You’ll need to register, then you select a car. There’s a wide variety of the latest EVs to choose from, with new cars being added all the time. You then specify when you want it delivered, and how long you want it for. You can have a car for as little as 30 days. After that time you can choose to keep it, give it back, or swap it for another EV model.
You’ll need your driving licence, along with a selfie of you holding your licence. And you pay by debit or credit card. No deposit is needed or any commitment to ongoing payments.
That’s pretty much it – it’s very quick and easy. Your new EV is then delivered to you, you lock and unlock it with your phone, and you can drive it around (up to 1,000 miles per month) knowing that you’re not contributing any tailpipe emissions to local air quality problems.
Electric cars are also cheaper to run. In fact the Onto subscription covers the car and also the insurance, charging, maintenance, servicing, breakdown cover and 24/7 support.
Charging an electric car is a concern for many people who haven’t done it before. If you can’t charge an electric car at home, then Onto provides a card to enable you to use the Polar charging network, and in total you can access 11,000 public charge points across the UK (BP Pulse, Shell Recharge Network & Tesla Superchargers).
EVs that are available from Onto include the Renault ZOE, Nissan LEAF, Hyundai IONIQ, BMW i3, Peugeot e-208, DS 3 Crossback e-Tense, Hyundai Kona, Tesla Model 3, Jaguar I-PACE and Audi e-tron. Cars are available from just £339 per month.
So which EV did we go for? Onto has a range of the latest EVs, which are all excellent, but the Jaguar I-PACE is one of our favourites, so that was our choice. Why? Because the I-PACE does everything.
First and foremost, the I-PACE is brilliant to drive. All EVs are better to drive than petrol or diesel cars because they’re more refined, quieter, and have 100% torque available at all times, so they’re more responsive. And of course there are no gears or clutch. However, above and beyond that, the I-PACE is a genuine driver’s car: as well as having amazing performance, excellent grip thanks to all-wheel drive, and a comfortable ride, for the keener driver the I-PACE has genuinely rewarding handling (for a car with a heavy battery). If you select Sport mode, you even experience a sporty ‘engine’ noise, just in case you’re still missing that element of interaction from an internal combustion engine.
The I-PACE is also practical. It’s a five-seater, so it’s family-friendly, with a good-sized boot – despite the sloping coupe rear window. And there’s a compartment under the front bonnet where you can store both charging cables – which is brilliant, as it means valuable boot or passenger space isn’t taken up by cables.
The I-PACE is a crossover (a cross between a family car, a luxury car, a sports coupe and an SUV), which means that it has higher ground clearance than a traditional car. Although there’s a lot of criticism of SUVs due to their size and the resulting impact on efficiency, having higher ground clearance is actually a very practical feature for people who regularly drive in the undulating countryside. And the I-PACE has another fantastic feature – to accompany the higher ground clearance, it’s fitted with all season mud and snow tyres. This means that the I-PACE can translate its all-wheel drive traction to any surfaces, and keep going through snow, ice and whatever else our changing climate and environment throws at it.
And then there’s the I-PACE’s styling. It still looks like a concept car, and in our opinion, silver is the best colour. The interior is modern, stylish and high-tech, with a brand new, faster infotainment system for 2021.
The I-PACE also has an official electric driving range of 253-292 miles, although in our experience this is more like 230 miles in real-world use.
It all sounds good, but there must be a catch? Well, you get what you pay for: although Onto’s electric cars start at £399 per month, the I-PACE is… well, let’s say ‘at the top end’. A subscription for one month costs £1,299 – but this is very much more affordable than the £75,000 that you would have to pay for a new I-PACE.
Just to prove that you don’t have to subscribe to an I-PACE to have a good time, we also tried a Hyundai Kona Electric from Onto. This is another one of our favourite electric cars, because it has an electric driving range of 300 miles for less than £40,000 (therefore annoyingly now falling just outside the eligibility for the revised UK government plug-in car grant), and it’s also great to drive as well as being practical. A Kona Electric 64kWh subscription costs £559 per month. Note that an updated Hyundai Kona Electric is now on sale – thankfully still with the 300 mile range for the model with the 64kWh battery.
So – after trialling Onto’s subscription service, would we use it again? The answer is a 100% yes. Are we just saying that, or can we offer some proof? Right, time to let you into a secret… Green Car Guide’s Editor Paul Clarke has been sent one of the latest green/hybrid/electric press cars to review by the manufacturers every week for the last 15 years. Use of a plug-in hybrid family car has also been available (which has always been driven on electric power locally, and as a result the go-anywhere 4×4 family wagon has averaged over 100 miles per gallon over the last two and a half years (helped by lockdown)).
However… for the last 10 years a classic, one-previous-owner-from-new, immaculate 1998 petrol BMW 7 Series has also sat on the drive. This has acted as a back-up car in case a press car met a sticky end with a previous journalist (yes this has happened), along the lines of the back-up cars that featured in Top Gear challenges, which were used if one of the main cars became incapacitated. However in reality the BMW 7 Series basically sat on the drive for 10 years and was hardly ever used. But because it was widely acknowledged to be one of the best engineered cars of all time (and it was brilliant to drive as well as being reliable), it was hard to let it go. But the Onto EV subscription service – ie. the availability of an EV whenever it’s needed – finally led to the decision to sell the 7 Series. The car has now gone and so Onto has been successful in removing a petrol car from my ownership. Could Onto do the same for you?
Here are the electric cars that are currently available through Onto:
Renault Zoe ZE40 R110 – £339 per month
Renault Zoe ZE50 Iconic R135 – £389 per month
Renault Zoe ZE50 GT Line R135 – £419 per month
Peugeot e-208 GT Line – £449 per month
Nissan Leaf Acenta – £449 per month
BMW i3 120ah – £469 per month
DS3 Crossback E-Tense Performance Line – £499 per month
DS3 Crossback E-Tense Ultra Prestige – £529 per month
Hyundai Ioniq – £419 per month
Hyundai Kona – £559 per month
Tesla Model 3 SR+ £799 per month
Tesla Model 3 LR – £999 per month
Tesla Model 3 Performance – £999 per month
Jaguar I-PACE HSE EV400 – £1299 per month
Audi e-tron – £1299 per month