Monthly subscription schemes that enable drivers to rent electric cars are booming in France, as electric vehicles become ever-more popular. We explain how they work.
Electric vehicle registrations are soaring, having risen by 20% in Europe in 2023. To cater to the demand, some car brands are launching comprehensive subscription plans.
What are electric car monthly subscription plans (abonnements auto électrique)?
The plans aim to make electric vehicles more accessible, and enable drivers to rent a new car for three, six, nine, or 12 months. Users pay monthly for the vehicle. They can then use the car as if it were their own for the duration of the plan.
Typically, drivers can choose from a range of models and fuel types (e.g. 100% automatic vs hybrid), depending on how much they wish to pay every month.
However, these schemes - which are usually run by private vehicle manufacturing brands - should not be confused with the government’s €100-per-month scheme (see below).
What are the advantages of a monthly plan?
The plans are intended to make running a car easier, as - especially in the case of all-inclusive subscriptions - drivers will then only have fuel (charging) to pay for in addition.
Many plans are eligible for the government's bonus écologique. This works as a lump sum that is deducted from the first rental payment.
Most also include servicing and maintenance, any repairs, a replacement vehicle in case of a breakdown, registration costs, and a hybrid or electric charging system.
Some also include insurance, or discounted access to charging stations across the country.
Overall, monthly subscriptions aim to simplify the financial aspects of running an electric car, as all the major costs are included in one monthly payment.
Renting a car in this way also means that drivers can test electric cars without buying one outright, or signing up to a constricting, longer-term plan for a vehicle that may not, ultimately, end up being the right one for their needs.
Similarly, cars can always be changed depending on the terms of the plan. Users can switch to a newer model or change from 100% electric to hybrid (and vice versa). This means that users can experiment and find the type of electric vehicle that works best for them.
How do I sign up?
Many car manufacturers offer the plans online. You can choose your model, the subscription length, detail how many kilometres you typically drive, and set up your payment schedule.
The vehicle will then be delivered to your door (or you may be able to pick it up from a nearby dealership).
Other ways to get an electric car
The rise in popularity of monthly plans also comes after President Macron launched the government’s €100-per-month payment plans for lower-income drivers last month, which began on January 1 this year (2024).
On December 14, 2023, he said on X (formerly Twitter): “The aim is to help people buy electric vehicles that are produced in our country...
“As you know, we want to continue to reduce our CO2 emissions…And one of the things we are going to do is replace our [combustion] vehicles with electric vehicles…
“We are going to produce more and more electric vehicles [and] electric batteries in France over the coming months and years. I made a commitment during the presidential campaign, in 2022. I wanted to announce to you that from January 1, the €100-a-month leasing system will be introduced.”
There is also a selection of other forms of government funding - depending on income and vehicle model - that can make it more affordable for people in France to drive an electric car.
Who can use the government’s €100-per-month scheme?
The ‘social leasing’ scheme is aimed at the least well-off 50% of households, with a taxable income per household unit (one per adult, half per child) of less than €15,400 (as shown on the last tax return).
It will allow drivers to lease an electric vehicle with low monthly payments.
Drivers will also need to be ‘major users’ (gros rouleurs) who drive more than 8,000 km per year, or live more than 15 km away from their workplace, to which they need to drive using their own car.
Drivers must also be over 18 and can prove that they live in France.
Around 4 million to 5 million people are expected to be eligible for the scheme. Eligibility can be determined on the plan’s official website.