Consumers often complain that electric cars are still too expensive compared to their petrol equivalent – regardless of any cost-savings down the line.
However, London-based startup elmo believes that its flexible contracts can match the best leasing deals available on the market and offer the freedom that modern, urban drivers desire.
How has elmo managed to square the circle? We spoke to the company’s co-founder Olly Jones to find out.
Building a New Customer Experience
“At elmo, we’re trying to be the easiest way for someone to switch to an electric car by re-imagining the traditional lease to suit the needs of modern consumers,” says Jones. “We do this by offering all our electric cars on all-inclusive and flexible contracts.”
Those flexible contracts give customers everything they need.
“The package includes insurance, maintenance, breakdown cover, tyres, road tax, congestion charge, and even a carbon offset to account for manufacturer emissions,” explains Jones.
“There’s also the option to customise the subscription package with a home charge point and public charging.”
However, elmo also offers customers the speed that we have come to expect with online shopping.
“Our customers can book a car in 5 minutes online, get verified in 24 hours and have a car delivered to their door after 4 working days,” says Jones.
“With our subscription model, there’s no deposit to pay and the customer just gives 30 days’ notice to hand back the car, unlike a traditional lease, where customers are tied in for 2-4 years and pay a hefty upfront deposit.”
“The idea,” says Jones, “is to create a fully integrated and seamless customer experience for people looking to switch to an EV.”
Of course, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this sounds too good to be true. You can get a new EV in less than a week with the option to give it back with a month’s notice, and you don’t have to pay more. How has elmo managed it?
“The headline price will often naturally be higher than leasing deals,” says Jones, “but when you account for the upfront deposit all the extras that are part of the elmo package we try to be competitive with monthly lease prices.
“We think this offers all the benefits of a lease but without the deposit and without the long contractual commitment.”
The secret to finding extra flexibility? It’s simply down to communication.
“We have achieved this through strong relationships with manufacturers who are extremely supportive of our platform as a way to get motorists into their EVs,” says Jones.
“But also through efficient management of our subscription fleet using our proprietary technology and through strong remarketing channels to sell off vehicles at the right time.”
Making EVs More Accessible
Often, when drivers think of electric cars, they often think about Teslas and other high-end cars. However, elmo, rather than simply offering the most expensive and desirable EVs on the market, is trying to cater for everyone.
“We currently offer a broad range of electric cars including the Renault ZOE, MG ZS EV, Kia e-Niro, Polestar 2, and Tesla Model 3,” says Jones.
“So far, we’ve seen that whatever we offer sells out pretty quickly! That said, our mission is to make EVs more accessible, so we try to focus on the affordable end of the market. The Renault ZOE and MG ZS EV are very popular on our website because they are the most affordable while catering to different needs: the ZOE as a small city car with great range; the MG with its size more appropriate for families.”
In fact, elmo is so committed to getting people into EVs, it has set itself a target of stopping 100,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere by helping more than 10,000 people get EVs by 2024.
“Electric cars, unfortunately, can’t remove CO2 from the atmosphere but can play a key role in stopping emissions from getting there in the first place,” explains Jones.
“Cars account for 60% of transport CO2 emissions with a typical medium-sized ICE car emitting about 24 tonnes of CO2 in an average lifecycle. The transport sector, in turn, contributes 26% of the UK’s annual emissions – the largest contributor of any sector – so there’s a big role to play here!”
Of course, electric cars still produce emissions across their supply chains. However, elmo is trying to remain one step ahead by including a carbon offset donation with all of its subscription contracts.
“The average driver will reduce their emissions by around 5.5 tonnes a year by switching to an electric car on elmo,” says Jones.
“The average person’s annual emissions are about 13 tonnes across all their activities. So, in other words, we’re empowering people to reduce their carbon footprint by 40% without them having to radically change their lifestyle.”
Driving a Flexible and Emissions-Free Future
When Auto Futures spoke to Jones’ fellow co-founder Luke Gavin at MOVE 2021 in London last year, he was keen to tell us that the British public was quickly coming round to the idea of electric cars – particularly with elmo’s flexible contracts – and it’s clearly paying off.
“We’ll be ramping up the numbers of electric cars on our fleet in a big way,” says Jones, clearly buoyed by the growing interest.
“We’ll also be integrating with exciting developments across charging and energy, building out our technology and growing the elmo family.”
Of course, for a company built on the idea of offering electric cars with more flexibility, does Jones believe that, one day, no one will own a car?
“This space is moving so fast that I’m always cautious on future predictions! What is clear to me is that as consumers our relationship with ‘ownership’ has changed in recent years. Many people no longer buy music and films, for instance,” Jones says.
“In the automotive/mobility space, we’ve also seen ‘access models’ popularised by ride-hailing and car clubs in particular. These are a great option for some people, but for many, the need to have regular access to their own car for commuting, school runs, etc. remains very real.
“Our subscription model embraces this need and gives people all the benefits of ‘owning’ their car, but without the hassle of actually owning it. In a world where flexibility is increasingly valued and where electric vehicle technology is evolving so quickly, we believe that the idea of buying a car outright will grow more and more outdated.”
It’s clear from speaking to Jones that in an industry with one eye on the old ways, elmo is firmly focused on the future of car ownership – if you can even call it ownership.