Why we’re running it: To see if app-based subscription services can replace ownership as the future of motoring

Month 1 – Specs

Life with a monthly car subscription: Month 1

Signing up to On.To and welcoming the DS 3 to the fleet – 24 March 2021

It’s not just Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime any more. You can get a subscription service for just about anything, from flowers and coffee pods to bacon and crates of beer.

Can we now add cars to that growing list? I’m hoping to find out over the next few months with Onto, the UK’s first subscription car service to offer an entirely electric line-up.

Onto is an all-in-one offering, with a single monthly payment covering the hire cost of the car, along with fully comprehensive insurance, 24/7 roadside assistance, servicing, Polar Plus and Shell Recharge charging memberships, plus tyre wear and tear (although not punctures). All cars have a forward-facing dashcam, too.

Unlike with a traditional contract hire agreement, there’s no need to pay a deposit and the minimum contract length is just one month. There’s also no registration paperwork to worry about, and while mileage is limited to 1000 miles per month, you can pay more if you want to drive farther.

The sign-up process, which asks for your driving licence and credit card details, as well as a picture of you holding your licence, is done through your web browser and takes less than 10 minutes. It can then take up to two days for a human to authenticate your account, but after that, you’re good to go: pick a car, say when you want it and sign your contract. You’re kept informed via email at every step up to delivery day. Pre-pandemic, there was a collection service, but paying £50 for home delivery is now the way to go.

When the car arrives, you check it over for any damage and accept delivery digitally, much like you would do with any lease car. From then on, everything is done through Onto’s smartphone app. You don’t even get a car key; the app unlocks the doors. It also records where you’re parked, how much charge is remaining and how many miles you have left until the end of the month.

The fleet includes superminis like the Renault Zoe, which can be had from £339 per month, family cars such as the Hyundai Kona Electric and even premium models like the Tesla Model S, Jaguar I-Pace and Audi E-tron, the latter setting you back a significant £1299 per month.

We opted to start the test with a DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, for which Onto charges £529 per month. Leasing one would have cost us around £4000 upfront, then £375 a month for three years directly from the manufacturer. Does that represent good value for those who don’t want to be tied into a multi-year agreement? We have two months to find out before we swap it for a different model to try out the handover process.