Understanding the Differences: Car Subscription vs. Leasing in Direct Comparison

Introduction: Car Subscriptions and Leasing for Fleets or as an Employee Benefit

If you only want to drive a car for a certain period, you usually don't want to buy a vehicle outright. For those who don't want to commit to a long-term vehicle, car subscriptions or leasing are optimal solutions. This applies to both individuals and companies and their employees. Long-term binding solutions are not always the best choice for fleets, and employees increasingly demand more flexibility and independence regarding their mobility and employee benefits.

Companies and employees who prefer to remain flexible should look closely at both options and compare them. Here's a preview: only mileage leasing can be reasonably compared to car subscriptions. Classic residual value leasing requires lessees to purchase the vehicle at the end of the contract. Therefore, the comparison here includes mileage leasing and car subscriptions. With both options, the vehicle is used only for the contract duration and not beyond.

What is a Car Subscription?

Think of it as "Netflix for cars," a car flat rate, all-inclusive mobility, long-term car rental, or a car subscription: there are now various descriptions for car subscriptions. However, the idea of a monthly flat rate for a nearly new car, covering all cost factors except fuel, is new to many people. Many car owners underestimate the actual costs of their vehicle. This skepticism about car subscriptions' seemingly high monthly fixed price is gradually diminishing, especially among young people looking for mobility options that offer more flexibility and independence.

Car subscriptions work like this: subscribers pay a fixed monthly fee to use a nearly new car for a pre-determined period. The monthly rate covers all usual cost factors, such as taxes, insurance, maintenance, and inspections. Subscribers only bear the fuel or charging costs and oil refills. Typically, a certain mileage package is included in the price or can be added. Many providers do not require down payments or final payments.

What is Leasing?

Car leasing is now a widespread alternative to buying a car outright: instead of buying a car, lessees can use it for a specified period. They pay a monthly leasing fee to the leasing company. This fee is based on the contract duration, inclusive kilometers, and usually a down payment. The leasing fee only covers the right to use the car. Unlike all-inclusive car subscriptions, leasing customers must pay for vehicle taxes, insurance, inspections, and other costs. At the end of the lease term, they return the car to the leasing company. Most automakers now offer leasing deals. Lessees can choose between used cars and immediately available new cars.

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Flexibility and Duration: Differences Between Car Subscription and Leasing

Flexibility and duration are key differences between a car subscription and leasing. Car subscriptions generally have much shorter terms than leasing contracts. Car subscriptions can start with terms as short as one month. Leasing contracts typically last two or three years. For both options, the longer the contract term, the lower the monthly rates.

With a car subscription, users can switch vehicles monthly, trying out different models. Terms are often more flexible, allowing more room for individual needs. In contrast, leasing contracts usually have longer terms, and early termination can incur high costs. The choice between a car subscription and leasing depends on personal mobility habits: if users need a car only for a short time or regularly need a new vehicle, a car subscription is usually more worthwhile. If they prefer long-term stability, leasing might be more interesting. These aspects should be considered when making a decision.

Included Services: What Does a Car Subscription Offer Compared to Leasing?

In a car subscription, most services are usually included in the monthly price, which would be extra in traditional leasing. Many car subscription providers offer not only the vehicle itself but also insurance, maintenance, and repair costs, as well as flexibility in terms. Compared to leasing, where these extras often need to be added separately, a car subscription can be more transparent and cost-efficient overall.

Additionally, some car subscription models offer flexible and shorter terms, allowing for regular vehicle changes, which can be particularly attractive for frequent drivers or people with changing needs. When comparing car subscriptions and leasing, it is essential to consider the included services to make an informed decision.

Insurance Coverage: Car Subscription vs. Leasing

Insurance coverage is a crucial factor when comparing car subscriptions and leasing. In car subscriptions, the monthly rates often include comprehensive insurance that covers various situations, such as accidents, theft, or other vehicle damage.

In contrast, lessees usually need to obtain appropriate auto insurance themselves, which can incur additional costs. It is important to check what type of insurance coverage is included in the providers' offers and whether individual adjustments are possible. This way, potential risks can be better covered, and unexpected financial burdens avoided. When comparing car subscriptions and leasing, it is worth taking a closer look at the insurance aspect.

Cancellation Options: Car Subscription vs. Leasing Contracts

The cancellation options for car subscriptions differ significantly from leasing contracts. While leasing contracts often involve long-term commitments with strict termination conditions, car subscriptions usually offer more flexibility. Many providers allow for relatively straightforward and quick cancellation of the vehicle subscription without long contract terms or high fees.

This flexible option can be particularly attractive to customers, as they can end the subscription or choose another vehicle as needed without being tied to long-term commitments. In contrast, a leasing contract generally requires adherence to the agreed term or the payment of high penalties for early termination. The different cancellation options are an essential aspect for potential customers to consider when comparing car subscriptions and leasing contracts.

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Mileage Limits and Extra Mileage Costs in a Car Subscription

Mileage limits play a crucial role in comparing car subscriptions. While some providers offer flexible terms without mileage limits, others may charge additional fees for extra miles. Therefore, it is important to consider in advance how many miles are likely to be driven per month and whether the chosen subscription covers this need. Carefully reviewing the contract terms regarding mileage can help avoid unpleasant surprises and high additional costs. It is worth comparing various offers carefully to find the car subscription that best suits your driving habits while providing financial security.

Maintenance and Repair Costs: Which Option is Cheaper?

Maintenance and repair costs are critical when comparing the economic balance between car subscriptions and leasing. In a car subscription, these costs are typically included in the monthly fixed price, allowing for clear budgeting.

In contrast, leasing may involve unexpected expenses for maintenance and repairs, which are additional to the monthly payments. Here lies a clear advantage of car subscriptions, as potential financial surprises can be avoided.

Additionally, some car subscription providers offer comprehensive service packages that ensure quick and easy handling of maintenance and repairs. In terms of cost control and transparency, car subscriptions seem to be a more attractive option.

Conclusion: Weighing Pros and Cons for the Optimal Decision

To make the optimal decision between a car subscription and leasing, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully. Car subscriptions offer flexible terms and transparent monthly costs, while leasing contracts often involve long-term commitments and additional unbundled costs. A comparison of included services shows that car subscriptions often include additional services such as insurance and maintenance, which can cost extra in traditional leasing. The ability to cancel a car subscription provides a certain freedom compared to the rigid leasing model. By considering these factors and analyzing individual needs, companies and employees can make the right choice and find a vehicle model that best meets the company's requirements.

Conclusion: Car Subscriptions are a New Trend

Car subscriptions are a new trend that will continue to gain popularity in the coming years. Not only traditional car manufacturers but also car rental companies and cross-brand platforms like FINN or Wuddi have now discovered the car subscription model.

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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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