Comparison: Car subscription, leasing or long-term rental as an alternative to a company car in Germany

The way we get around has evolved significantly in recent years. The classic company car is no longer the only option for offering automobility to employees. In this article, we will take a closer look at three alternative car solutions: car subscription, leasing and long-term rental. We will highlight the features and differences of these options to help companies choose the appropriate mobility solution.


  1. What is a car subscription?
  2. What is special about car leasing?
  3. How does the long-term car rental work?
  4. Car subscription vs car leasing vs long-term rental: What are the differences? 
  • Duration and delivery time
  • Monthly rate
  • Services and additional costs
  1. Costs: Are car subscriptions more expensive than leasing?
  2. Car subscription vs car leasing vs long-term rental: For whom is what worthwhile? 
  • Car subscription
  • Car leasing
  • Long-term car rental
  1. Conclusion

At the beginning of any vehicle procurement, fleet managers must ask themselves the crucial questions: What is the purpose of the vehicle and how long will it be needed? Company car or pool vehicle? Leasing or car purchase?

The car subscription is an increasingly popular alternative to leasing. We give you an overview of the car subscription, show you the advantages and disadvantages of this model and compare it with classic leasing.

As a third option, depending on the application, purpose and duration, long-term rental can become interesting for companies and employees. This is usually offered by traditional car rental companies or car sharing providers. We have taken a closer look at long-term rental and compared it with the other two variants, car subscription and leasing.

What is a car subscription?

‍The car subscription is an alternative to buying or leasing a vehicle that has become increasingly popular in recent years, because the trend in cars is also towards more flexibility and freedom. It offers a flexible way to use a car without having to make a long-term commitment.

With a car subscription, similar to leasing, you use a vehicle for a certain period of time without purchasing it. In contrast to classic leasing, car subscriptions are often shorter-term and do not require a long-term commitment. Subscription periods are usually 1-12 months. The monthly payment usually includes all costs such as insurance, maintenance and repairs. Employees can often choose from a variety of vehicle models and often have the option to order their car online.

In addition to providers who have completely focused on the car subscription model, more and more car manufacturers are also trying to take advantage of the subscription trend and offer various models, especially for corporate customers. Cars provided as part of the subscription are immediately available new cars or young used cars.

Advantages of car subscriptions

  • Flexibility thanks to flexible terms
  • Usually no deposit required
  • Costs such as insurance, maintenance and repairs included in the monthly rate
  • High financial planning security
  • Large selection of vehicle models
  • Possibility to try out new models

Disadvantages of car subscriptions

  • Limited number of kilometres; additional charges for extra kilometres
  • Higher monthly costs due to the inclusive services
  • Monthly instalments not deductible as business expenses.

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What is special about car leasing?

‍Car leasing is a proven method of procuring company vehicles. In this long-term lease arrangement, a company leases a vehicle for a fixed term and mileage. The monthly instalments are usually lower than with a car subscription, but there may be additional costs for insurance and maintenance. At the end of the lease, the vehicle can usually be purchased or exchanged for a new model.

‍During the term, the company pays a monthly instalment for the car. In addition, almost all providers charge one-off additional costs. For example, there is usually a commitment fee of around 1,000 euros. There may be other special payments, for example for e-cars.

There are two different leasing models: kilometre leasing and residual value leasing. With kilometre leasing, a number of kilometres is set in advance that the vehicle may be driven. If this number is exceeded, additional payments must be made. With residual value leasing, on the other hand, a value is determined that the vehicle should still have at the end of the term. If the residual value is not reached, additional payments are due here as well (for example, due to excessive wear and tear or signs of use).

Advantages of car leasing

  • Lower monthly payments compared to buying a car
  • Possibility to drive a new car every few years
  • No risk of the car losing value

Disadvantages of car leasing

  • Often limited mileage per year
  • Early contract termination can be expensive
  • Damage to the car can be expensive if it is not included in the contract
  • No ownership of the car at the end of the contract

How does the long-term car rental work?

Long-term rental is an alternative to the company car and offers a flexible way to use a car, similar to the subscription model. Long-term car rental is offered by traditional car rental companies and by car sharing providers. Employees can rent the car for around one month and thus receive more favourable conditions than with a normal rental or short-term rental. This type of rental offers the flexibility of short-term rental with the option to use the vehicle as needed. The cost often covers insurance and maintenance, and employees can usually cancel on a monthly basis.

Advantages of the long-term rental

  • Flexibility thanks to short rental periods
  • Vehicles available immediately
  • Fast, uncomplicated procurement

Disadvantages of the long-term rental

  • Limitation of the inclusive kilometres
  • Significantly more expensive than a car subscription or leasing

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Car subscription vs car leasing vs long-term rental: What are the differences?

‍Car subscriptions, leasing and long-term rentals have some things in common - for example, they have similar requirements such as a proven credit rating or an existing driving licence. However, there are also a number of differences. In particular, the terms, the monthly instalments and the inclusive services differ between the three models:

Duration and delivery time

Car subscriptions and leasing differ primarily in their terms. While two years are standard for leasing, the terms for car subscriptions are only a few months. Car subscriptions are therefore shorter-term and also usually require less lead time when ordering. With leasing contracts, the delivery time can be longer. Long-term car rentals offer maximum flexibility as they can often be cancelled monthly, sometimes even daily, and the vehicles are available immediately.

‍Monthly rate

Car subscriptions cost a little more than a lease, but not as much as a long-term rental. The monthly instalment for a subscription is usually higher than for a lease. However, the monthly subscription rate includes additional costs such as insurance, taxes and service. Only the fuel costs have to be paid additionally. The leasing rate, on the other hand, only covers the costs for the vehicle and often requires separate costs for insurance, maintenance and also the fuel costs. In general, the longer the term, the lower the instalments - this applies to both leasing and subscription.

Services and additional costs

Car subscriptions usually offer comprehensive services, including insurance, maintenance and repairs. Only the fuel costs have to be paid additionally. Long-term rentals are similar. Car leases, on the other hand, often require separate insurance and maintenance. In addition, leasing incurs non-negligible ancillary costs, such as a commitment fee and any special payments.

This means that with a car subscription, you don't have to take care of anything yourself, which is also particularly convenient. However, you are bound by the provider's conditions and cannot obtain your own offers for insurance or repairs. You may end up paying for premium services that you may not even need.

Costs: Are car subscriptions more expensive than leasing?

‍The cost depends on various factors, including the class of car chosen, the term and individual needs. Auto Abos have higher monthly instalments but cover all costs, making them a convenient all-inclusive option. Car leases can have lower monthly rates but require separate costs for insurance and maintenance.

‍Therefore, a car subscription does not necessarily have to be more expensive than a car lease. Before signing a subscription or leasing contract, it is therefore worth calculating and comparing all costs.

Car subscription vs car leasing vs long-term rental: For whom is what worthwhile?

‍Car subscription

The car subscription is a mixture of leasing and rental car. It combines the advantages of leasing with those of a rental car, making it a serious alternative.

‍Ideal for employees who want maximum flexibility and convenience and are willing to pay a little more to cover all costs. Compared to leasing, the car subscription is particularly worthwhile when employees ...

  • only need the car for a short period of time.
  • would rather spend money than time on registration and insurance.
  • want to be able to plan costs ideally.
  • want to keep a flexible termination option open.
  • want to test many different models.

Car leasing

Car leasing is suitable for employees who value long-term stability and lower monthly payments and are willing to take care of separate costs. Employees who know that their situation will not change in the next few years save more in the long run with a lease. It is also suitable for people who do not want to get used to a new car all the time.

Long-term car rental

Perfect for employees who are looking for flexibility without a long-term commitment and only want to pay for the time actually used. Long-term rental is suitable for rentals that go beyond the normal short-term rentals, for example for one month. Long-term rental is more expensive than the other two models, but companies can get corporate discounts from some providers, which can lower the monthly costs. It is worth comparing different offers here.


‍The choice between car subscription, car leasing and long-term rental depends on individual needs and preferences. Companies can use this diversity to offer employees flexible car mobility solutions that meet their needs. The right choice can lead to happier employees and potentially cost savings.

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Stefan Wendering
Stefan is a freelance author and editor at NAVIT. Previously, he worked for startups and in the mobility sphere. He is an expert in urban and sustainable mobility, employee benefits, and New Work. In addition to creating blog content, he also produces marketing materials, taglines, and website content, as well as case studies.
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