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It’s that age old question – do you really need a car in London? Ask most people and they’ll say no way. Except that sometimes it would be nice. But you really can’t afford it anyway and it would just sit there most of the time, plus there’s all that dirty pollution. But what about getting out of London for the weekend? Well you can hire one of course, but then before you know it, that’s cost £££ and you’ve spent half the day picking it up from a weird industrial estate in Zone 6 and even researching potential legal help. If some of these dilemmas sound familiar then let us introduce you to Onto, a new all electric car subscription service that is a pretty awesome answer to most of the common gripes about car ownership in London.
Onto works like any other subscription really: you sign up and pay month by month and you can turn it on and off as you please. So if you know you have a few car trips coming up in the space of a month, you can book yourself an Onto car for a month, then give it back. Need it again a few weeks later? No problem – another one can be on its way with a few simple clicks on the app. Onto deliver and pick up the car from your house, so it’s an absolute breeze to start and end a rental. If it’s your first hire, the team will take you through the features of the car (and if it’s your first time driving electric you’ll want to pay attention here) and then it’s yours to spin around as you please for the next month.
If you’re thinking this sounds expensive, it really isn’t – it’s actually a pretty amazing deal. Onto’s entire fleet of cars are 100% electric so you’ll only pay for the cost of the hire, which starts at £339 a month for a Renault Zoe. No petrol costs, no polluting fumes. Each car even comes with a BP Pulse and an Instavolt card meaning you can charge the car for free at any of their charge points around the country, so if you plan your charging well you won’t even pay a single extra penny for charge points or on your home electricity bill. Needless to say all insurance and other costs are included too.
We have been using the service for a month now and have been seriously impressed with the service and the car itself, the Renault Zoe. It’s an unbelievably zippy little car, more like driving a really powerful go cart than a loud rumbling old petrol car. Everything that can be automated has been – the key unlocks the car automatically when you’re nearby; automatic gears; automatic handbrake; even automatic braking on one the driving modes (this helps to conserve battery charge). If you’re just driving around London, you can pretty much get away with just using the accelerator pedal and not touch anything else.
This was our first proper experience of driving electric and it’s clearly the future. However, it does seriously take a different way of thinking / planning if you are going on a big trip. The minute you get out on the motorway, even going at 65mph, the battery drops very rapidly and before you know it you’re staring at a low battery sign – the range anxiety is real. Within London there are quite a few charging points but as soon as you’re outside, it’s a very different picture and unless you’ve got your journey planned out it’s easy to get stuck. On a big trip to Cornwall, already a 5 hour drive, we had to plan two stops on the way to charge up. You end up being too scared to play tunes or charge your phone too, as you want to save as much car battery as possible.
None of this is the fault of Onto of course – but the UK seriously needs to up its game with charging points. If they were as common as petrol stations, there would literally be no reason not to get an electric car. But if you are planning on say, driving to the Lake District regularly, then Onto may not be suitable for you. If it’s shorter day trips or just getting around London then Onto will more than meet your needs and come in way cheaper than a couple of weekends standard car hire.
In summary, we’d massively recommend Onto if you think it’s the right fit for the kind of journeys you have in mind. And once the UK has a bigger charging network, services like Onto will just become better and better.