Electric Cars

Here's What to Know If You're Considering an Electric Car Subscription

At this rate, subscribing to an electric car might be a good option. Here's what to know if you're about to dive in or just kicking the tires.

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If you need a new car, many things are working against you right now.

Car and gas prices are high, as well as interest rates for borrowing money. But a Southern California company says it has a cheaper and hassle-free solution: you can subscribe to an electric car. 

Kendal Bruce has been driving his new Tesla Model 3 for a month now. But, he didn’t buy it. And he didn’t lease it, either.

Instead, he subscribes to it. 

“When I think about subscriptions, I think about Netflix. So it felt easy. That’s what really appealed to me,” said Bruce.

The service is offered through the Santa Monica-based company Autonomy. You pay for the car month by month, with a three-month minimum. Autonomy CEO Scott Painter says during the time you have the car, it’s essentially yours. 

“You can keep the car as long as you want. It’s your car. It’s not a car you’re going to share with anybody. It stays in your driveway, it’s totally at your control. It’s just a subscription, which gives you the freedom to quit it at any time,” said Painter.

You can get in a Tesla Model 3 for $490 a month, which is lower than the current average new car payment. But you’ll also pay a $4,900 start fee, essentially a down payment. You can choose a higher monthly payment, which will bring down the start fee.

And, you can put it all on a credit card. Painter says it’s cheaper than buying or leasing the car. 

“If you’re thinking about getting a Model 3, we would challenge you to go down any other path to get the car. If we’re not the cheapest way to get the car, we’d be shocked. It also has to be the easiest and fastest,” said Painter.

The company currently only offers the Tesla Model 3, but says it’ll soon start offering the Model Y, along with EV models from other car makers. 

Brian Moody, with the research company Kelley Blue Book has been writing about the car industry for 15 years. He thinks subscribing to an EV could be a good idea, especially if you’re curious about an electric car, but you’re nervous to commit long term. 

“If you like to switch cars frequently, more so than every year or two, maybe a subscription could work for you,” said Moody.

But as for the start fee, Moody says to make sure it pencils out, especially if you don’t plan to keep the car more than a few months. 

“I think it’s also important to sit down and do some basic math and see how long it’s going to take for you to make your money back,” said Moody.

Moody says you can also rent a Tesla Model 3 from companies like Hertz and Turo, but you’ll need to do the math because renting might be pricier. 

As for Bruce, he says he made the right decision. 

“I love it, it’s like my favorite toy ever,” he said. 

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