Car subscriptions explained

Cars as a subscription are taking off, with some predicting that by the end of 2025, 10% of new UK car registrations will be through some sort of subscription service. But how does a car subscription work?


The idea of subscribing to a magazine or a mobile phone contract is nothing new, but subscribing to a car? That might sound a little odd to some. However, this way of getting into a new car is one of the biggest shakes to financing a vehicle since Personal Contracts Purchase (PCP) arrived three decades ago.

How does a car subscription work?

The basic idea is the same as any other subscription really. You pay a set monthly fee, and get a car in return. Each contract will work slightly differently, but broadly speaking, you choose the car you want, pay the monthly fee, and everything is included - car, tax, insurance, breakdown cover, and servicing.

The main variations come with a deposit - or lack of one. Depending on the provider, car, and contract you pick, you may be required to pay an initial deposit, or a one-off joining fee. Exactly what is included will alter slightly too, though the majority look to bundle up everything you need baring fuel on one single monthly payment.

Will I ever own the car?

No. Put simply, the car will never be yours, similar in principle to a conventional lease. Like a leased vehicle, you pay a set monthly fee and, although the vehicle is never owned by you, you are also protected from depreciation and major issues since it is not your car to put right - should you have kept it maintained in line with the contractual requirements.

The main downside over leasing - or other finance agreements such as PCP and Personal Contract Hire (PCH) - is that it is typically more expensive per month for a comparable vehicle.

The benefit - and main selling point for car subscriptions - is that you are not tied into the same car for a year, two years, three years…

Car subscription services will often allow you to switch your car within the same provider's portfolio. Contracts can last 24 months for example, but also will typically be available for 12 months, 6 months, or even less.

For someone that prioritised flexibility, it could be a perfect fit. For example, if you live in a city centre and rarely drive, it would be best to have a small, cheap to run, and easy to park car for most of the time. But then if you know that the summer holidays are coming up, or you're planning a trip away in a few months' time, you can 'upgrade' your car for a brief period for on that is more practical, or faster, or better suited to longer distances.

What else is there to consider?

To start with, it's important that you check the minimum and/or maximum age you can be to subscribe to a particular service. Some will require you to be 21, others 25, and some older still. 

It is important to do your sums too before committing. It may be better value for you to lease a car, which is largely the same in ownership concept, but less flexible. Once you have totted up leasing fees, tax, insurance, maintenance, and roadside assistance, you will likely find that subscription and leasing costs are similar, though it is rare that the latter is more expensive - you are paying extra for the flexibility after all.

What car subscription services are there in the UK?

There are two key types of subscription service available - in-house and dedicated firms. The former are subscription services set up by the car companies themselves, so you get your car directly from the manufacturer. This means supply is about as good as you can get, but also ties you in to that brand or manufacturer group if you want to pick a different car within the contract time.

The other type sees dedicated firms offer a subscription service, just as there are dedicated leasing firms. The benefit here is that these are typically multi-brand affairs, where you can pick from a variety of different manufacturers.

Flexibility - Genesis

The Hyundai-Kia Group's premium brand, Genesis is to Hyundai as Lexus is to Toyota. The manufacturer has only recently come to the UK, but has launched with a variety of alternative sales and ownership models including subscription service Flexibility.

Mocean - Hyundai 

Run on similar lines to the Genesis service above, as it's part of the same overall company, is Hyundai's Mocean. It offers the option to swap cars every six months and doesn't need a deposit to get started. 

Pivotal - Jaguar Land Rover

One of the earliest entrants into the UK car subscription market, Pivotal has the benefit of offering models from two different brands.

With four tiers of membership, there's a one-off joining fee, and then the ability to switch make, model, or powertrain every six months.

Care - Volvo

The headlines for Care by Volvo are one fixed monthly fee, no hidden costs, and three months notice. The entire line-up is available, across the mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and pure-electric models. It includes service and maintenance, including tyres, so the only thing that the driver needs to pay on top of the subscription fee is fuel.


Onto is an electric-only subscription service, with models from the Fiat 500 to Audi e-tron available. Prices vary from less than £500 per month for a 500 or Renault Zoe, to £1,299 a month for the Jaguar I-Pace for the Tesla Model 3 Long Range.


Another all-electric subscription service, Elmo has a similar range of vehicles on offer, from small city cars to large SUVs. It also allows drivers to bundle any extras together, so that on top of maintenance, breakdown cover, insurance, and carbon offsetting, items such as a home charge point and public charging service can be added.


Wagonex differs from Onto and Elmo above in that it offers petrol and diesel models as well as pure-electric. The cheapest models start from around £350 per month, but rise to more than £3,000 per month for luxury models such as the Porsche Taycan EV, Range Rover Sport SVR or Mercedes G Wagon G63