Australian drivers will soon be able to get a taste of what its like to drive an electric car via a new subscription service launched by software startup Blinker.
Interest in electric vehicles (EVs) is on the rise in Australia, with EV sales tripling in 2019 to 6,718 new electric vehicle registrations, driven mostly by the first deliveries of the Tesla Model 3, but also the release of the Hyundai Kona electric car and the new generation Nissan Leaf.
A number of reports and surveys including the “State of EVs in Australia 2019” report from the Electric Vehicle Council note that both range anxiety – the fear of running out of power while driving – and the higher purchase price of electric cars are key barriers to uptake of the zero emissions form of transport.
Blinker’s subscription service will allow drivers to try out an electric vehicle for a period without the commitment of a high upfront cost, and experience the day to day perks, and pitfalls, of owning an EV.
Blinker managing director and co-founder Michael Higgins tells The Driven, that manufacturers, dealers and startups are looking to use the platform to provide electric vehicles on a subscription basis.
“We have a network of dealers we are hoping to announce later this month,” he says. “We’re now beginning to see a trend towards [electric vehicles] and people wanting to do it specifically for EVs.”
One such startup is Good Car Company, which is in the process of importing secondhand Nissan Leafs and NV200 electric vans, as well as getting engineering approval for Volkswagen e-Golfs.
Good Car Company co-founder Anthony Broese van Groenou says the subscription service, which will be available later in 2020 (depending on coronavirus-related logistics factors), will offer drivers a zero risk assessment of electric vehicles.
“The key things are affordability and range,” he tells The Driven. “The fact that they can try an EV for an extended period, it makes it zero risk.”
Electric cars and subscription services are a natural fit, Higgins says.
“What is interesting about subscription and EVs is that they are very much entwined,” he says.
“It allows people who want to get into EVs but are a little bit unsure … to try a car from 30 days as opposed to full ownership. If they like it they can buy or they can stay and subscribe.”
Subscription services offered by dealers and startups under the agreement can differ but typically include registration, insurance, and servicing. Some agreements may also include free charging.
Sounds just like hiring a car, right? Higgins says yes and no – there are some key differences.
“Generally speaking it is significantly more affordable than hiring a car,” he says.
“Hire cars include registration, insurance and maintenance but … [they are getting] customers in and out of them every few days, and they’re paying a large marketing cost [for that].”
“The average Australian often will struggle to see what they are actually paying into their vehicles. People on average wouldn’t think they’re paying approx $20 a week just for registration, or $21 a week for insurance.”
“They often just think what are my potential car repayments. The subscription just bundles them all into one.”
He adds that while much of the cost of the subscription is to pay for the higher price of an electric vehicle, the cost is offset by not needing to by fuel.
Consumers can expect more of these services to start popping up in the near future (depending on supply of EVs to market).
The Good Car Company is planning to begin operations in capital cities once a national servicing network agreement is tied down, with regional hubs to follow.
“I think it can speed up the transition, and move [the EV market] away from early adopters and transition [EVs] into a mainstream vehicle,” says Higgins.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.