Onto vs elmo: What’s the best car subscription service in 2022?

Getting a car on subscription makes driving hassle-free. But when you’re depending on a third party service to provide your car — along with servicing and insurance — it’s important to choose the right car subscription provider. Onto and elmo are two of the most popular electric car subscription services in 2022 — so which one is best?

We’ve compared the features, costs, cars, usability, and customer reviews of the two car subscription competitors, so you can choose the service that best suits you.

Onto

elmo

SUBSCRIPTION

Minimum commitment

1 month

1 month

Notice period

7 days

30 days

Age restriction

Minimum age 25 (or 30 for Premium vehicles*)

Minimum age 25 (or 30 for ABI Group 31 vehicles*)

COSTS

Deposit / admin fee

No deposit

£95 one-off admin fee

Delivery fee

£49.50

Free (first 50 miles, with a per-mile charge thereafter)

Early termination fee

No fee

No fee

Mileage included

750 per month (plus rollover unused miles from previous month)

1,000 per month on average over the course of your agreement (you can do more, or less each month)

Excess charge per mile

£0.18-£0.50 per mile

£0.12 per mile

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Car insurance

Road tax

Servicing & maintenance

Breakdown cover

Charging

Free at specified charging points

Discounts available on home charging point installation; BP Pulse membership available as add-on

Delivery & return

Delivery and collection only — no pickup option

Delivery and collection only — no pickup option

OTHER

Credit checks

'Soft' credit check

'Soft' credit check

Car types

EVs only

EVs only

Pause subscription

Not available

Not available

Cost for additional drivers

£9.99 per driver per month

£10 per driver per month

SUBSCRIPTION

Minimum commitment

1 month

Notice period

7 days

Age restriction

Minimum age 25 (or 30 for Premium vehicles*)

COST

Deposit / admin fee

No deposit

Delivery fee

£49.50

Early termination fee

No fees

Miles included

750 per month (plus rollover unused miles from previous month)

Excess charge per mile

£0.18-£0.50 per mile

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Car insurance

Road tax

Servicing & maintenance

Breakdown cover

Charging

Free at specified charging points

Delivery & return

Delivery and collection only - no pickup option

OTHER

Credit checks

'Soft' credit check

Car types

EVs only

Pause subscription

Not available

Cost for additional drivers

£9.99 per driver per month

SUBSCRIPTION

Minimum commitment

1 month

Notice period

30 days

Age restriction

Minimum age 25 (or 30 for ABI Group 31 vehicles*)

COSTS

Deposit / admin fee

£95 one-off admin fee

Delivery fee

Free (first 50 miles, with a per-mile charge thereafter)

Early termination fee

No fee

Miles included

800 per month (plus rollover unused miles from previous month)

Excess charge per mile

£0.10 per mile

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Car insurance

Road tax

Servicing & maintenance

Breakdown cover

Charging

Discounts available on home charging point installation; BP Pulse membership available as add-on

Delivery & return

Delivery and collection only - no pickup option

OTHER

Credit checks

'Soft' credit check

Car types

EVs only

Pause subscription

Not available

Cost for additional drivers

£10 per driver per month

Onto vs elmo: which car subscription service is best for you?

You’ll prefer Onto if:

  • You want an all-inclusive electric car subscription with no hidden fees.
  • You want to include charging in your EV subscription.
  • You don’t mind paying for car delivery and collection.
  • You want the flexibility to cancel your car subscription at short notice.
  • You’re new to electric cars and want to try one out.

You’ll prefer elmo if:

  • You have a higher monthly mileage and want low excess mileage fees.
  • You want to install a home charger for electric vehicles.
  • You want free or low-cost vehicle delivery.
  • You don’t mind paying more to personalise your subscription package.
  • You’re a more experienced electric car driver who wants to invest in EV technology.

About Onto

Onto describes itself as an all-inclusive car subscription service — and it’s almost true. With breakdown cover, insurance, servicing, and charging included, the only thing you’ll need to pay extra for is car delivery and collection.

Onto only provides electric cars on subscription. So if you want to try an EV before you buy one, Onto is a great choice — especially since you can return the car with just 7 days’ notice. 

With a large range of cars to choose from, Onto is a popular choice with new EV drivers. You can test drive a Tesla, or choose a nippy city car like the Renault Zoe if you don’t need as much range. Cars are categorised into tiers, with lower tier cars typically being more affordable than high tier cars. Additional mileage rates vary depending on your car tier.

With a monthly commitment, 7-day cancellation period, and many different EVs to choose from, Onto is an excellent car subscription service for anyone who’s new to electric cars.

About elmo

Elmo Drive is a great Onto alternative as they also specialise in electric car subscriptions. While most costs are included — such as breakdown cover, car insurance, and servicing — there are a few additional costs to be aware of. You’ll pay a one-off fee of £95 to sign up, plus a surcharge if you live in certain areas (i.e. Greater London and the West Midlands). Elmo also has slightly stricter eligibility criteria than Onto.

Despite these additional costs, elmo is ideal if you want a personalised car subscription, rather than an out-of-the-box service. For example, elmo used to offer an Ohme charge point at your home for an extra £125 (plus a 6-month subscription). This is no longer available because the government grant has ended. All of their contracts are now 1-month standard rolling contract.

Be sure to check out our breakdown of electric vehicle tariffs currently available in the UK.

These add-ons make elmo a great Onto alternative for slightly more experienced EV drivers. Investing in a charge point and signing up for 6-12 month subscriptions can be more economical if you’re committed to switching to an electric car.

What’s unique about Onto?

The Onto app

Your smartphone is the key to your Onto car. You’ll use the Onto app to unlock, start, and stop your electric car, as well as find nearby charging points and check your car’s battery level. Some cars also allow you to pre-heat them or open the bonnet using the app.

Free charging

EV charging is one of the biggest ongoing expenses of driving an electric car — so free charging is a huge plus point for Onto over the alternatives. Free charging is available at 12,000+ charging points with an Onto car subscription.

What’s unique about elmo?

Physical car key included

Elmo is a good Onto alternative for drivers who want to use a physical key with their car. This is ideal for drivers who don't want to rely on their phone to start their car, or for those whose operating system isn’t supported by the Onto app.

Renewable energy and carbon offsetting

Elmo’s partner charging company of choice, So Energy, uses only renewable energy to supply your home energy bundle. elmo is also a carbon neutral company, and is committed to offsetting its carbon emissions. So if you’re serious about going green, this commitment to more sustainable driving may be the clincher over elmo’s competitors.

Customisable packages

While these added extras come at a cost, elmo’s customisable packages offer greater flexibility than Onto’s one-size-fits-all approach. Drivers who want to personalise their car subscription have more options with elmo.

Onto vs elmo: customer reviews and support

Customer support is crucial for any car subscription service. Drivers rely on the service provider for breakdown support, servicing, insurance claims, and all kinds of other queries. Here’s a breakdown of the customer support levels you can expect from Onto vs Elmo.

Customer support access

Both service providers have extensive help pages and FAQs online, so you may find all the answers you need on the Onto or elmo site. If you do have further questions, Elmo also has a phone number for general enquiries. Onto also has a 24/7 phone number, though this is a little tricky to find on their website. Their online messaging/email system is much more accessible. You can also get support through the Onto app.

Both Onto and elmo provide emergency phone numbers you can call to report accidents, breakdowns, and problems with your car. Elmo also has a thorough, easily accessible emergency guide on its website.

What customers are saying

As of June 2022, Onto and Elmo’s Trustpilot scores are:

  • Onto: 4.0 (1616 reviews) — 69% Excellent
  • Elmo: 4.4 (48 reviews) — 83% Excellent

While elmo’s reviews are better overall, both elmo’s and Onto’s customer service levels seem to be rated similarly in customer reviews. Recent excellent reviews for Onto commend the all-inclusive nature of their service, though there is some criticism of unexpected damage charges when the car is returned. Elmo’s recent Excellent reviews praise their efficiency and professionalism. Their negative reviews report a more complex booking process.

Which car subscription provider should you choose?

Choosing a car subscription provider often comes down to the details. Here are the key comparison points between Onto vs elmo.

Features

Onto and elmo’s features are very similar: they both specialise in providing electric cars on subscription. They both offer low-commitment monthly subscriptions, and include all the major expenses associated with driving a car: insurance, servicing, and breakdown cover.

However, there is some variation in the flagship features of each company. Elmo offers greater flexibility (though the cost of these added extras can quickly escalate). Their commitment to sustainable driving is also sure to win points with EV drivers. Onto’s innovative app is great for tech-minded drivers, but it's the free charging that gives them the edge.

Winner: Onto

Cost

Onto doesn’t offer many bolt-ons — which means they genuinely offer an all-inclusive service. As an elmo alternative, their monthly prices tend to be more expensive, but you won’t pay anything more than the original price quoted (except a fee for car delivery and collection). You’ll also get free charging, saving you money each time you need to refuel.

Elmo, meanwhile, has quite a few customisation options, as well as a first-time admin fee. Without free charging, your elmo car subscription has the potential to be more expensive than the cost you first see. But if you choose not to opt for any of the added extras, elmo is often much cheaper than Onto — excess mileage charges are lower, and car delivery and collection is free within 50 miles.

Winner: elmo

Available cars

Elmo currently has more than twice as many cars listed on their site than Onto (59 vs 24 as of June 2022). However, not all elmo’s cars are available immediately — many are listed as coming soon, so you may not actually be able to get behind the wheel of your chosen car for a few weeks.

Onto’s helpful availability checker allows you to see which cars are available near you right now.In terms of brands, Onto and elmo offer a similar range. Teslas are available from both providers, as well as various hatchbacks, SUVs, and estates. There’s not a lot in it, but elmo has a slight edge, thanks to its greater range of available cars.

Winner: elmo

Usability

The Onto app has a range of features designed to make managing your car subscription really easy. You can track your battery usage, find nearby chargers, report car damage, and start your car — all from your smartphone. It may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly great for usability.

Elmo’s website offers a lot, but ultimately you’ll need to use specific EV apps to find charging stations, and a physical key to unlock and start your car. It’s what we’re used to, but it’s not as streamlined as Onto’s app-based approach to EV driving.

Winner: Onto

Customer reviews

Elmo wins this round thanks to its higher Trustpilot rating and easy access to help guides and support. While Onto seems to offer similar service levels to its competitor, their support access is a little trickier to navigate.

Winner: elmo

Car subscription FAQs

General questions about subscriptions

Are car subscriptions a good deal?

Car subscriptions are a great alternative to car ownership. While the monthly payments can be higher than car ownership, most of your expenses are covered — so there are no unexpected costs. You’ll often get 2-3 years from your subscription vehicle before you pay the same as buying an equivalent car outright.

How does a vehicle subscription work?

Getting a car on subscription is similar to taking out a Netflix or Spotify subscription. You’ll pay a set amount each month to drive your car — this payment usually covers insurance, breakdown cover, road tax, servicing, and a courtesy car when needed. When you no longer need your car, you can cancel your subscription at relatively short notice.

What is the difference between lease and subscription?

Car leasing often requires drivers to sign up for a specific number of months (or even years). This ties you into a long-term contract, which is often difficult to cancel. Car subscriptions typically require much less commitment, with drivers able to change cars every month if needed.

Does a car subscription affect your credit score?

Not usually. Most car subscription services will carry out a soft credit check that doesn’t impact your credit score. If you’re concerned, it’s important to check this with your service provider before the credit check is run.

Onto questions about subscriptions

Is Onto expensive?

Onto tends to be a little more expensive than elmo. Monthly payments for a Renault Zoe GT Line subscription with Onto is £499, while elmo offers an equivalent car for £469. The Audi e-Tron 55 Quattro is £1,299 per month with Onto, or £1,149 per month with elmo. Onto also charges for car delivery and collection, so the costs can rack up if you want to change your car regularly. The excess mileage charge is also higher.

However, Onto offers free charging, so depending on your monthly mileage and the range of your car, this may make up the difference each month.

How many cars does Onto have?

Onto only offers pure electric cars, so their range is more limited than car subscription providers that also offer hybrid or traditional vehicles. They currently have 24 models available on subscription (though multiple colours and specs may be available).

Does Onto car subscription do credit checks?

LIke most Onto competitors, Onto conducts what they call “affordability checks” through a credit reference agency. However, these checks don’t affect your credit rating.

Elmo questions about subscriptions

Who owns Elmo Drive?

Elmo is owned by the Constellation Automotive Group. The group also owns other well-known car brands, including Cinch and We Buy Any Car.

Does elmo supply drivers with a physical key?

Yes! Unlike Onto, elmo provides a physical car key for your vehicle.

How much does it cost to get my car delivered?

Unlike some of elmo’s competitors, they offer free car delivery for the first 50 miles, and a per-mile charge thereafter. Car collection at the end of your subscription costs the same as car delivery.

About this car subscription provider comparison

The information included on this page is not professional or legal advice. All data, claims and facts referenced are taken from each subscription company website (or other reputable sources) and are accurate as of the date of writing, and to the best of our writer’s ability. Car Sloth is an independent, informational website and isn’t responsible for any engagements our users may have with providers after reading this guide. Car Sloth does not provide any warranties and guarantees related to the companies included in this comparison.We publish unbiased car subscription guidance, our opinions are our own and are not influenced by  payments we receive from advertisers. See our editorial guidelines.

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