One of the fastest-growing segments of the consumer automotive market is car subscription services. An enormous amount of investment is going on, with multiple car subscription providers entering the market in the expectation of considerable growth over the next few years.
Subscription schemes go under many different names: flexible lease or rental; long-term rental or long-term hire. The essential idea is that you have a car for as long as you like; from one month to several years. There is either no fee or a small charge to sign up and you can end the contract or swap the car when you feel like it, subject to conditions.
For a full explanation of all the pros and cons of subscription services, have a read of our comprehensive guide:
What kind of subscriptions are on offer?
The offerings are changing all the time, but car subscription providers can be divided into those from car makers, independent providers and rental companies.
Many car manufacturers and subscription providers also see a subscription service providing a gateway to electric car ownership, giving customers the opportunity to live with an electric vehicle for a few weeks or months before making any major financial commitment. So far, EV customers have been one of the biggest adopters of car subscriptions, with the vast majority continuing to drive an EV long after their initial subscription period ends.
These are the top UK-based services available as of June 2022.
Multi-brand subscription providers
Independent car subscription providers are taking the lead on subscription services while car manufacturers are scrambling to sort themselves out. They offer vehicles from a number of brands, with various different offers and restrictions.
At this stage, the number of different models available on a subscription service are more limited than your choices with leasing or traditional dealer finance, but the choices are growing all the time. We keep this list up to date on a regular basis.
Mycardirect is a new online car subscription service that offers new and used cars from a number of different brands. It may be a new company, but its team has extensive backgrounds in finance and leasing with major car companies.
Claiming to offer an all-inclusive and easy experience, Mycardirect currently has four locations in England but offers nationwide delivery. As well as both new and used cars, Mycardirect also offers vans, which is great for small businesses that may not need a van all-year-round, or may need an additional vehicle for a short-term contract.
Insurance isn’t included in the advertised prices – Mycardirect can help you with that or you can sort it out yourself if you prefer. As of September 2021, prices kick off at £397/month for an all-electric Renault Zoe on a six-month contract.
- The Car Expert interviews Mycardirect CEO, Duncan Chumley
- Have a look at the range of cars that Mycardirect currently has available*
Wagonex is one of the original car subscription providers, founded in London in 2016 and now based in Cardiff. Wagonex says its reasoning for developing a subscription platform was for “the ability to have an SUV for the winter and convertible for the summer”. The company has a selection vehicles available from more than 20 different manufacturers (although no convertibles, ironically).
Like other subscription offerings, there’s no hefty upfront payment. Instead, there’s a small refundable deposit. Road tax and maintenance are covered, although insurance is not included in the monthly fee. Terms can be anything from one month to two years.
Elmo is a specialist electric car subscription service and its users can put together a bespoke plan from a bundle of options. Open to drivers over 30, all advertised prices include the monthly cost of the vehicle, comprehensive insurance, breakdown cover, road tax and a carbon offset contribution. You can choose to add on a home charge point, renewable home energy and a public charging membership.
Subscribers have to commit to a minimum three-month rental, after which you can choose any term from one to six months. A wide range of cars is available, including popular models like the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2. There is a one-off £95 admin fee, and delivery is free within 50 miles from the supplier. A Renault Zoe is advertised from £379 a month.
Cocoon Vehicles describes itself as a family business based in Derbyshire and operates short-term leases from one to three months or subscriptions. It doesn’t sell insurance and you can rent convertibles and performance cars.
A minimum of 1,000 miles is included and the lowest monthly subscription starts at £598.80 for an Audi A1 Sportback on a minimum 90-day contract (as of September 2021).
Flexed can offer subscription terms from as little as four weeks and as much as a year. There’s a wide choice of makes models available, with more than 2,000 vehicles currently on the fleet – and they’re not all EVs or hybrids if you want a more conventional petrol or diesel vehicle.
Prices start at £312 for a Fiat 500 on a 28-day rolling contract, and cars can be delivered to your door.
Like Elmo, Onto is a car subscription service purely for electric cars. You choose your model – which can be new or up to three years old – according to a monthly charge with one-month rents possible. There’s no set-up fee, but a £49 delivery charge. Access to UK public charging points via BP Pulse, Shell and Tesla superchargers is included. If you charge at home, it’s on your bill.
Insurance for one person (for over 25s) is included. The subscription is all run by an app on your phone, which also then acts as the key to the car. The Onto range starts with the Renault Zoe and runs up to Audis, Jaguars and Teslas. Prices in April 2021 started at £389 for a Zoe.
Flexigo is also part of the Cocoon group, and offers another alternative for subscriptions. Most of the prices quoted on the site are for a three-month period, but terms as low as 28 days are available if you contact the company directly. The company offers next-day delivery to anywhere in the UK (at extra cost) or you can collect the vehicle from the Fleixo office in Derbyshire.
Prices start at £670 for a Nissan Micra on a three-month contract, which doesn’t include insurance.
Car manufacturer subscription services
There are only a few subscription services currently run directly by car makers, but more are set to join in coming months.
Jaguar Land Rover: Pivotal
In 2018 Jaguar Land Rover launched Carpe (from the Latin Carpe Diem seize the day) as a 12-month unlimited mileage subscription aimed at high-mileage drivers who could sign up to a new Land Rover or Jaguar every 12 months. It was relaunched in 2020 as Pivotal, with a minimum 90-day term and monthly vehicle swaps possible.
There are multiple membership tiers and members can put their subscription on hold from month to month. A fresh vehicle arrives every six months. It’s £550 to join, then £750 to £1,600 a month, insurance included.
Volvo: Care by Volvo
Volvo’s Care by Volvo subscription went UK-wide in 2020. Customers can choose any model from the current Volvo line-up (built to order or from stock), assemble the monthly package on an app and try the car on a 30-day trial.
There’s no sign-up fee and then a three-month rolling contract. Insurance is not included and rates go from £559 to £799.
Genesis is a new premium car brand from Hyundai, much like Lexus is to Toyota or Audi is to Volkswagen. Although it’s just getting started in Europe (it’s been around in the USA for several years), Genesis has already announced a subscription service called Flexibility.
Hyundai launched its subscription platform in late 2021, called Mocean. Currently only a certain number of models are available, which may or may not be a result of the production problems gripping the entire car industry.
Pricing starts at £259 per month for a Hyundai i10 city car on a 24-month terms. Pull that back to three months and it goes up to £439 per month.
Dealer-driven car subscriptions
The car subscription sector may still be in its infancy, but it’s already evolving as new technology and new players look to disrupt the status quo.
One area that looks like it is going to be a real growth area over the next 18 months is car dealers offering subscriptions. There are plenty of benefits for dealers in being able to operate in this area, and additional flexibility for customers.
Technology platforms are now available that car dealers can use to manage their own subscription programmes, giving them both a useful new revenue tool alongside existing car finance referrals and the ability to manage their own vehicle stock.
Loopit is an Australian company that has made waves providing a subscription platform for some of the leading car dealership groups and rental companies across Australia and New Zealand. Now it’s looking to make inroads here in the UK with a software platform that allows any customer to take out a car subscription at any delership.
It’s a dealer platform, not a consumer service, but it could well be the technology that underpins thousands of new and used car subscriptions across the UK very soon.
More car subscription information
Additional reporting by Stuart Masson. This article is regularly updated to ensure it remains accurate. Last updated June 2022.
* The Car Expert has commercial partnerships with Cocoon, Elmo, Loopit, Mycardirect and Wagonex. If you click through to their websites and/or proceed to take out a subscription contract, we may receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay.