A few months ago, I subscribed to Onto's main competitor (read my elmo review here) and in early August 2023, I decided to switch to Onto and see how they fair against them. But this isn't just a comparison review; I want to give you an objective review of what it's like to subscribe to an electric car with Onto.
CarSloth.com exists to help people find the right car subscription deal, and since this is a relatively new way of running a car, it makes sense to try providers and have first-hand experience.
As I said, I signed up last month and kept an eye out for the right car and ended up subscribing to a Tesla Model 3 (SR+)
I will share my experience finding a car, the sign-up process, the delivery and the overall experience of subscribing to an EV via Onto.
Psst! If you want to support this website, you can use my referral code and get £100 off your first month - use code f8139.
Although I had previous experience using a subscription provider, I wanted to approach this as someone who has never used car subscription services.
I wanted to see how easy it is to find a car, subscribe and manage my subscription - subscriptions and meant to be easy, so I wanted to know if it really was!
I started by browsing their inventory of EVs, and at first, I noticed they had many electric car models in their fleet - about 26 at the time (including the new Renault Megane e-tech!).
So I thought that's great, good selection of cars. But the first roadblock was when I realised that you only see what is actually in stock once you type in your postcode. There were only about five available cars at the time. Over the past few weeks, I have checked at random to see the inventory level (it seems to refresh at least once a day). There are usually 4-7 cars available at any given time, with the Mokka-e (from £609 pcm) and Citroen e-C4 (from £619 pcm) being in stock the most often (or at least that's my impressions).
Don't even try to get Teslas, as they get snapped up quickly! For comparison's sake, elmo has more available models at any given time (likely due to them being part of Constellation Automotive Group, which provides them access to more cars).
I got lucky and found this conversation on Onto's community site, which helped me build a widget on my iPhone that directly calls their API for a specific model. I was able to quickly check for a Tesla Model 3 with just one tap on the screen. After a few days, one popped up, and I booked mine. Quick tip for you there!
Onto's website is easy to use, with a ton of helpful information about its subscription service. Something I mentioned in my previous review is the comparison I made with other car-buying websites like Autotrader. They are more "traditional", and you're bombarded with a lot of detailed information. While Onto's user experience is more streamlined - you only see what you need to see for the stage you're at. Quite neat!
Onto provides useful pricing information about subscribing, especially the cost compared to leasing. This is super useful for anyone new to subscription and wants to understand which is the right option for them:
As you may already be aware, the car subscription membership comes with everything you need to run the car included in the price, such as maintenance, car insurance, roadside assistance, tax, and MOT.
The big selling point of Onto that many find useful is that you can include public charging in your monthly payment too. Onto offer access to over 20,000 public chargers on several different charging networks, including Tesla Superchargers and Shell Recharge network (incl. Ionity, GeniePoint, Osprey and a dozen more!).
As you may expect, the monthly EV subscription cost is slightly higher if you opt for their public charging bolt-on.
To put this in numbers, here are a few examples:
Overall, it's an additional £40 a month if you want to include charging.
This may be useful for those who can't charge at home and want a more straightforward charging experience. But if you can charge at home and have a cheap energy tariff, you may want to skip this.
The additional mileage is another bolt-on you may need to be aware of. As standard, Onto gives you 750 miles a month, which is great if you only do city driving, but if you want to make a few long trips, you will get close to the limit very quickly.
In my case with the Model 3, to add 250 miles to my monthly mileage allowance would cost me £130 pcm.
If I were to go over my current mileage and pay the excess mileage fee for 250 miles, that would set me back about £180. So there is a saving here, and you should consider a bolt-on if you regularly do more than 750 miles a month.
Onto also introduced bolt-ons for reduced insurance excess and one for young drivers aged 23-24 (this one is currently being trialled).
Once you’ve found a car you like, you need to create an account. You will then be taken to the car booking screen, where you pick a preferred delivery date and submit any additional information about the delivery.
The next steps will require you to send a photo of your driving licence and a selfie of you while holding it.
Onto does not carry out hard credit checks, unlike leasing. Car subscriptions are not a type of car finance, so there won't be any records of Onto on your credit report.
However, they would ensure you pass their affordability and driver eligibility checks. You can find more about them here.
For comparison, elmo's sign-up process required me to send them my DVLA code, allowing them to see my history. Onto doesn't seem to have this as part of their process
The process was super easy, and I booked the car I wanted quickly. At first, this was the Renault Megane e-tech but a few days later, I saw the Model 3 I wanted, so I reached out to their team, who helped me swap the car before Onto delivered the first one.
After Onto approves your account, you will receive your car hire contract outlining the subscription terms. It also includes a handy list of any additional costs you may be liable for as the car keeper. Again, nothing unusual there if you’re used to leasing.
After this, you’ll have to set up a direct debit to take the subsequent payments automatically.
You can then download the Onto app, which makes managing your subscription easier, but more on that later!
After swapping three cars with elmo, and now getting one from Onto, I did know what to expect.
While elmo allows you to pick whether you want a morning or an afternoon delivery, with Onto, you'll know when the driver will come the day of the delivery.
Onto's delivery was smooth, and the driver called me a couple of times to keep me updated. He called me on the morning of the delivery day to confirm his arrival time and then once more when he was roughly 30 mins away from my home.
When the delivery driver arrived with the Tesla, he inspected and recorded the vehicle's condition. He ensured I was happy with everything and gave me a quick car tour. The car was also charged at 60%, the minimum by contract, which was helpful.
Interestingly, Onto doesn't send a summary of the car inspection, unlike elmo, who will send you a detailed itemised document which includes notes, photos and a video.
After about 20 minutes, he was ready to go - I had my keys, the Onto team granted me access to the Tesla app, and I had a Model 3 ready to be taken for a drive!
Once you're up and running and the car is with you, you can explore their online dashboard and mobile app. Both allow you to manage your subscription and access important information and bolt-ons.
The app can do much more than the browser dashboard, especially if you have a Tesla (you can do less than the official Tesla app, but it's still useful). The only thing missing from the app is the contracts - you can only see those when you log in through a browser.
While elmo offers many insights about your driving, CO2 emissions offset and fuel savings (compared to petrol), Onto keeps things simple.
Sometimes I found the elmo data simply curious because I like data, but it didn't add anything to my subscription experience.
Not having any of this available from Onto didn't feel like a significant loss. The app made things easier, as I could add bolt-ons on the go without using a browser or contacting the team. This was a welcome change in light of the philosophy of vehicle subscriptions.
Onto gave me another courtesy call the next day to find out how the delivery went and if I was happy with the car and the overall experience. I only had positive things to say!
While the sign-up process is straightforward, I have learned a few little things after starting my subscription. None of them is a deal-breaker by any means, but they are factors which anyone considering Onto should keep in mind:
Reading through the hire agreement, nothing unusual stood out - if you're familiar with car leasing or renting, you'd know what to expect.
I used elmo for six months, and they set the bar quite high, so I was very curious about my experience with Onto.
So far, Onto has been excellent! They try to make the subscription experience easy and transparent. The booking experience, delivery, and subscription management have been smooth sailing!
Their live chat agents were always helpful and resolved all my queries (one helped me swap the original car I booked with the one I wanted before the first one was delivered).
I particularly liked browsing through the community site where Onto has built a loyal following. I like how the team engages with users there. It's evident that Onto aims to champion EV ownership and try to make life easier by offering a variety of cars and bolt-ons to suit anyone's needs.
Even if Onto wasn't a Car Sloth partner, I'd still highly recommend them to anyone looking to try an EV subscription. They are not for everyone, but those whose lifestyle requires flexibility would love Onto!
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There are hundreds of cars available via UK subscription companies.
My thoughts about this EV after driving it for three months.