Car subscription services are making electric cars more accessible. Instead of buying the car outright (big money upfront), or leasing the car (relatively long-term commitment), car subscription services provide access to electric cars at lease-level pricing without the long-term commitment. In the absence of local car-sharing services, I looked at all the different electric car subscription services in the UK and decided to join Elmo Drive. Here is my Elmo Drive review.
If you just want the referral code for Elmo to save 50 GBP and don’t want to read the Elmo Drive Review, here you go: LukeB50. Find Elmo here.
Elmo Drive Review – Our Situation
My partner and I had become used to using electric vehicles. We previously lived in Vancouver and had access to multiple great car-sharing companies; and one of the companies had multiple electric cars that we could use (such as the Hyundai Kona). Also, the electricity in Vancouver was low-carbon, therefore, using an electric car in Vancouver was a particularly clean way to travel when compared to a conventional internal combustion engine car.
We now live in the north of the UK. Thankfully, the electricity in the north of the UK is also generally low-carbon like Vancouver. So again, using an electric car here is a clean way to travel when compared to a conventional internal combustion engine car. However, the area that we live in doesn’t have car-sharing companies available, so we needed to consider other options for electric cars.
The options were really to buy an electric car, lease an electric car, or subscribe to an electric car package. We weren’t prepared to buy an electric car, and leasing an electric car was still relatively expensive with a medium-term commitment on something that we still were a bit unsure about. So the only option left was an electric car subscription package, which appealed to us for the following reasons:
- Large initial outlay not required
- Multi-year contract not required
- Gave us a chance to try out an electric car
- We could try different vehicles at low extra cost
- The packages were all-inclusive so we didn’t need to worry about insurance, depreciation etc.
In line with our needs and budget, we wanted the cheapest car that would do around 200 miles real-world range. This turned out to be the Renault Zoe with all companies including:
Other competitor cars were:
- Vauxhall Corsa-e 50 kWh (175 miles)
- MG5 EV Long Range 61 kWh (205 miles)
But these were both more expensive than the Zoe.
I’ll dip into a deeper comparison in another article, but for my price point and expected term of subscription (months) Elmo was the most competitive on price and the best fit that had cars available now.
Elmo Drive Review – The Company
Elmo were founded in 2019 and are based in the south UK. They’re one of a handful of players in the electric car subscription market, and arguably one of the top two. They are backed by Constellation Automotive Group who operate WeBuyAnyCar, BCA, CarNext, and cinch, who are fairly big names in the UK car marketplace, which seems to indicate suitable capitalisation, experience, and seriousness to play in this sandpit.
They sell themselves as, “Your own electric car. For as long as you want it. All the benefits in one monthly payment. No deposit to pay. Flexible contract. All-inclusive package”. This is accurate, but of course there’s some hidden nuances, as we’ll explore below.
Reviews of Elmo Drive are generally good as shown here (as based on 198 reviews), but there’s a few stinkers that critique supply issues, delivery costs, and deliveries generally. So clearly the company is performing generally well but still has some issues on an ongoing basis.
Elmo Drive Review – The Process
The process for getting your electric car is meant to be fairly simple and easy. You need to:
- pick the car you want from the online catalogue,
- setup your profile,
- select the contract type
- some extras if you want them,
- read the T&Cs and sign some digital documents,
- make a payment,
- take delivery of the car,
- drive and enjoy the car,
- end the contract and return the car.
For the online catalogue, Elmo does a good job of presenting the cheapest possible prices for its cars, and all available cars. You can quickly get a good sense of the relative cost of different models and the range that is available.
Package options currently include ‘ElmoFlex’ which gives you the standard 1-month notice period at a standard price, or ‘ElmoSave’ which gives you about a 10% discount if you commit to a 12-month package. However, this option wasn’t available when I selected my contract and is new. Hopefully they keep it in place.
Depending on the vehicle you may also be able to select colours and trim level.
Optional extras include:
- Additional drivers (starting at 10 GBP per driver per month)
- Extra mileage (800 miles per month included)
- Home charge point (700+ GBP)
- Public charging memberships (starting at 10 GBP per month for BP pulse)
I added 1 additional driver so had to pay more for this. I think this would be quite normal for most families, and ideally wouldn’t cost extra. There’s minimal extra paperwork and I imagine the insurance risk isn’t greater in most instances. We weren’t provided with an additional key, which is annoying but manageable.
Personally, we didn’t need a home charge point installed as the Zoe battery can be charged from the standard 3-pin plug socket from zero to full in 24 hours, which is ample for our requirements. We don’t run the battery down to zero so rarely need more than an overnight charge to fill the battery.
I selected the BP pulse public charging membership option, mainly as on the rare occasion I expected to need to use it, that it would save me money on the high charging rates. However, I’ve not used it once, and there aren’t that many chargers in the north in my area. I’ll be cancelling it shortly after my next trip to Scotland in February.
Elmo Drive Review – Car Delivery & Driving
My delivery experience was excellent. The delivery date was accurate and upheld. I had multiple communications to update me prior to delivery. The man who dropped off the car was very polite and friendly, and took time to walk me through the drop-off process.
I paid 191 GBP for delivery although Elmo states they’ve now reduced their delivery fee to 119 GBP excluding Scotland. They’re upfront about this, but ideally they’d eat the cost for the user to make their service even more competitive for the client. I expect to pay the same fee for collection when I eventually return the car. So you have to pay the ‘delivery fee’ twice.
Once you have the car and start using it, it really starts to feel like your own car. There’s essentially no interaction with Elmo apart from monthly emails about your driving data, or if you have an issue and need to get in touch with them. The cars do have telematics data and front facing cameras, so it’s good to be aware of that, but frankly it has no effect on my driving and I expect that is the case for most people unless you’re a particularly paranoid type.
Elmo Drive Review – Customer Dashboard
The Elmo Drive website dashboard has some user options to browse:
- Driving Data
Driving Data gives you some interactive infographics on your driving, such as your driving score, miles driven, average daily mileage, a trip breakdown, and some emissions assumptions. I presume the driving score is a function of your acceleration and deceleration, and whether you keep to speed limits. Elmo thinks I’ve done a good job (‘99% excellent’) !
The information on trips is good, but it’s not in a particularly great format. I’d love to see CSV export for the trip data, so I could analyse my driving patterns and costs per journey / mile etc. But realistically, the level of data currently presented is probably sufficient for most people.
You can setup and manage maintenance requests through the portal, however I’m yet to set any maintenance requests up. I understand that you have to drive the car to the annual service, which may not be that close to where you live. If this is the case, this should be improved upon as this could be a significant time drag.
Under subscription and payments you can find your current subscription terms and manage this, as well as see payments you’ve made and upcoming scheduled payments, with all invoices available to review and/or download.
Elmo Drive Review – Good and Bad
Following my 4-6 months experience with Elmo so far, here’s some lists of the good and bad points for the service.
- Competitively priced relative to the competition
- Clearly trying to make their offering more competitive, as they’ve improved their offer since I joined (lower delivery costs and more subscription options)
- Sign-up was easy
- Car delivery process was very good and on time at every step
- Car has performed flawlessly so far
- Good customer support, if a little slow over email.
- Extras cost more money where I think it would be reasonable to include (2nd driver in particular)
- No 2nd key was provided nor available, even though I paid more for a 2nd driver.
- Communications from the customer service team are slow over email (0.5 – 3 days), though you can pick up the phone which I’ve had quicker responses for.
- As a paid-up member I’d expect there to be premium customer support available through the dashboard, i.e. some kind of messaging system where you can track and see your enquiries.
- Telematics and trip data for the car are not shared fully
- I received multiple fines for minor reasons, but Elmo took 3 weeks to notify me, resulting in higher fines becoming payable and more administrative hassle for me. This seems to be caused by the cars being owned by a 3rd party and slow administration through the companies. Elmo need to improve their internal systems for handling these kinds of queries.
In conclusion, I think Elmo provide the best value for a budget electric car on the 6-18 months term timeline, from the current market place of companies. My experience with the car itself has been almost perfect, but there have been some gremlins around the edges, like 2nd keys, premium communications and administrative delays. Still, would I recommend it to a friend? Definitely.
If you use my referral code to join Elmo, you get £50 and I get £50. Please consider using my code: LukeB50 . Find Elmo here.