Electric car leasing vs car subscription in the UK

What's the best way to get an electric car in 2022?

Car leasing is a popular way to get an EV (electric vehicle), however, many UK drivers are discovering that car subscription is a cost-effective, flexible and more convenient alternative to traditional electric car leasing. 

In this article we explain the pros and cons of leasing an electric car and provide a comprehensive comparison with electric car subscription.

Electric car leasing and car subscription compared

The world of EVs is a new and exciting one, but it can also be confusing. If you're thinking about leasing an electric car in the UK, you may be wondering what your options are in terms of the types of financing, contract length commitments and whether there are better alternatives to car leasing available to you.

Whether leasing or subscription is right for you ultimately depends on your unique needs and driving habits. To make the best decision, you need to understand how each option works.  

The facts

Whether it’s your first electric car, or you’ve been plugging-in for years, deciding whether to lease or subscribe to your next car can be a tough decision, if you’re unaware of all the facts.

Fact #1 - Deposits

  • Car leasing requires a large upfront non-returnable deposit.
  • Subscription is a month-by-month solution that requires no upfront deposit.

Fact #2 - Contract length

  • Car leasing contracts are longer based on 24 to 48 month commitments.
  • Subscription offers drivers a flexible, 30-day contracts without a long-term commitment.

Fact #3 - Extra costs

  • Leasing means paying extra for insurance, servicing, maintenance and charging.
  • Subscriptions include insurance, road tax, breakdown cover, servicing and free public charging*.

*If you select a no-charging subscription, this won’t apply.

Fact #4 - Time and administration

  • Leasing involves multiple telephone calls and paperwork for financing, tax, insurance and servicing.
  • Subscription is a fully digital experience where you can arrange everything with a few clicks online.

Fact #5 - Delivery time

  • Car leasing can involve waiting many months for the car you want to arrive.
  • Subscription lets you choose from a range of cars already in stock so no long waits for delivery.

Fact #6 - End of contract

  • At the end of a personal contract hire lease you need to return your vehicle by the lease termination date, otherwise you may incur a late charge. If you have a personal contract purchase lease, you will need to pay the final balloon payment to take outright ownership of the car. This means you could owe a large amount at the end of the lease.
  • At the end of your Onto subscription, you arrange the collection in your app and only have to pay the collection fee of £129.50.

Meet our electric cars

Renault Zoe
GT Line + R135 EV 50 Rapid Charge
190mi Real World Range|2022 Model
£509/month incl:
  • No deposit
  • Insurance
  • Charging
  • Maintenance & Servicing
  • Breakdown cover
  • Road tax
  • 24/7 support

Car subscription is driving EV adoption

"We saw that despite the many advantages of electric car ownership, consumers were struggling with the multi-year contracts offered by traditional car leasing companies. The significant commitment was deterring people from even considering a switch to an EV. It was a problem that needed a solution, so we launched Onto. 

We take care of everything - insurance, maintenance, tax, free public charging and always-on customer support, all included in a competitively priced 30-day commitment. Plus, the car will be delivered to your door on the day of your choice and you can swap to a different model whenever you want for much more flexibility.

Our mission is to revolutionise car ownership and we'd love you to join us for the ride!"  

Onto CEO and co-founder, Rob Jolly

How does electric car leasing work?

When you lease a car, you make an upfront deposit payment and then monthly payments for a number of years as defined by your lease agreement. At the end of the lease, you can return the car and get your next one.

How do you finance a car lease?

Traditionally, most car leases are financed through personal contract hire (PCH). With a PCH lease, you make an initial deposit then monthly payments for the term of your lease.

Personal contract purchase (PCP) is another common option for financing a car lease. Like PCH, it requires an upfront deposit (PCP deposits are generally much higher than PCH deposits) and monthly payments, but PCP leases give drivers the option of purchasing the cars they’ve leased at the end of their lease terms.

Hire purchase also allows drivers to make monthly payments toward owning an EV, but the monthly payments are structured slightly differently from those for PCP.

Why do some drivers choose car leasing?

For many people, leasing a car is the most recognised alternative to buying one outright. It has traditionally been a good option for drivers who don’t want the multitude of hassles that comes with ownership, such as having to resell the car when they want to move to a new model.

How long do I have to commit to an electric car lease? 

When leasing a car you agree to a monthly lease payment for a set number of months, normally between 24 or 36 months, however 48 and even 60 months are now also becoming popular.  

Generally, the longer the commitment you make, the lower the monthly payment. However, it’s important to be aware that for the rapidly evolving electric car space, a longer term agreement could end up costing more in the long run. 

Many drivers are starting to realise that a multi-year commitment to an EV, with no ability to swap cars, could leave them tied to a model that doesn’t give them the option to change to suit their needs or lifestyle.

Pro tip: If you’re looking for the best electric car leasing deal you can get with the ability to swap between different models whenever you want, then consider subscribing to your next car.

How much are lease payments on electric cars?

Whether you’re looking for a cheap car lease or have a larger budget to get the particular make and model you want, there are many factors that will affect how much you should expect to pay for an electric car lease:

  • Sale Price: The overall cost of a car depends as much on the make and model, as it does the car's performance.
  • Deposit amount: The greater the upfront payment you make, the lower your monthly lease payment will be.
  • Duration of the lease: This is the number of months you agree to lease the car.
  • Mileage: The lease will outline a maximum number of miles you can drive each year. If you exceed the mileage limit in the contract, you'll be charged for every extra mile at the end of the lease which can take drivers by surprise.
  • Residual value: This is the value of the vehicle at the end of the lease, with its depreciation factored in. If you decide to purchase the vehicle once the lease expires, this is the amount you will pay.
  • Dealership fees: These are added into the lease and can significantly affect the monthly cost.

How much deposit do I need to pay upfront for a car lease?

One of the most important decisions you will have to make if you lease an electric car is how much of a deposit you are willing and able to pay. 

Many people mistakenly believe that they will get this money back at the end of their contract, which is not the case. To understand the true total cost of a leased car you need to divide the deposit amount by the contract duration and add that cost to the monthly payment. 

As an example, a £3,000 upfront payment over 24 months is the same as adding £125 per month on top of your monthly lease payment, which can make a significant difference when you’re comparing the cost of leasing versus subscription for your next car.

Will a large deposit reduce my overall leasing cost?

When you lease an electric car, the bigger your car deposit is, the lower your monthly car lease payments will be, but it's important to keep in mind that the total cost of your commitment – including both your deposit and all your monthly payments – remains the same regardless of the size of your deposit.  

Pro tip: If you don’t fancy making a large upfront deposit then you could consider subscribing to your next car. 

Electric car subscription: How does it work?

Car subscription is an innovative concept that’s become popular in the UK over recent years. It’s similar to how other subscription services like Spotify or Netflix work in that our customers pay a monthly fee in exchange for a car with a 30-day contract length.

When you register as a subscriber with Onto you can choose from a wide range of electric cars, arrange the details on our mobile app, and select a delivery date that suits you for us to bring your new car directly to your home. Everything from road tax to servicing, breakdown cover and insurance and even free public charging at over 20,000 UK charging points, is included in your subscription fee, so all you have to do is drive it.  

Why are so many drivers choosing car subscription?

Car subscription services are an incredibly convenient solution that allows you to have a car for as long a time as you wish. An Onto subscription even includes free charging at over 20,000 public chargers across the UK.

The range of makes and models of electric cars has exploded over the past couple of years and models such as the latest Tesla models, are hitting the top 10 best selling cars in the UK. 

With the ability to swap your EV for a different model with only a few clicks in the Onto app, an all-inclusive subscription means drivers get all the benefits and reliability of car ownership, without being tied to a specific model. 

This flexibility ensures that, whichever model you start with, you’ll be able to drive or switch to the electric car that best suits you and your lifestyle. With Onto you can rest assured that you are navigating this exciting and fast-paced world of electric cars like a pro.

And what's more, with Onto you can book your electric car online yourself in minutes. However, we also have a customer service team you can talk to who can guide you through the process if you prefer.

Whether it's helping you select your car, swapping to a different model, or troubleshooting any tech issues along the way, our experts at Onto are there to help ensure your EV experience is as simple and seamless as possible.  

Is subscription cheaper than leasing?

Whether you lease or subscribe to your next car, the overall monthly cost is dependent on the make, model and mileage allowance you want. 

When comparing similar models, the most important thing to remember is that subscriptions are all-inclusive, including 750 miles per month with optional bolt-ons, while standard monthly lease payments do not include insurance, servicing or charging costs. 

Car leasing costs vs subscription costs

The table below shows an example of how the total cost of ownership compares between subscription and leasing.

Renault Zoe GT Line +Onto subscriptionLeasing*

Monthly Payment



Upfront deposit



Commitment duration

1 month

24 months

Miles per month



Insurance & breakdown



Free charging



Maintenance & servicing



Fancy extras

Metallic paint


Total monthly cost



*This is a comparison as of October 2022. You can find price comparisons for all car models available on our car pages.

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