Electrification minus the complication – Audi e-tron becomes available via all-inclusive onto subscription service

Posted on 23 April, 2021

By taking a selfie and completing a simple online registration process, drivers who may have been considering a trial separation from the internal combustion engine can now take delivery of a new Audi e-tron Black Edition for as little as one month usage period.

The attractive new incentive to make the switch to zero local emission driving is the result of a collaboration between Audi UK and all-inclusive electric car subscription provider Onto, which has just purchased 300 examples of the much sought-after electric SUV. The relative newcomer to the world of vehicle fleets is now making the e-tron available for periods starting at one month, with everything from insurance and maintenance to 1,000 miles-worth of electricity all taken care of by one simple subscription payment. 

“Although it’s an increasingly unfounded viewpoint, electrification and additional complication still go hand in hand in the eyes of many drivers, so our involvement with Onto will be valuable as a means of dismantling as many perceived obstacles to EV ownership and usage as possible,” says Director of Audi UK Andrew Doyle.

“Onto’s acquisition of 300 Audi e-trons is one of the largest corporate BEV purchase commitments we have seen so far, and supplements an EV fleet which is already the most extensive in the UK. This acutely convenience-focused service has real potential to be a key driver of attitudinal change and broader integration of more environmentally compatible mobility.” 

Unlike more familiar automotive leasing models, the Onto service doesn’t require subscribers to secure their chosen car with a deposit, or to commit to binding multi-year agreements. During the online subscription process, customers selecting the e-tron Black Edition will be asked to pay a fee of £49.50 to cover delivery to their preferred UK address. This can be carried out within as little as 72 hours. At that point either 50 per cent or 100 per cent of the advertised monthly fee of £1,299 is also debited, depending on the proximity of the booking and delivery dates. This payment can be a one-off, as subsequent charges only become applicable ahead of each new month when the customer confirms they want to extend usage of their car. If they don‘t, they can pay a £49.50 collection fee and walk away, or pay this fee and swap to another electric vehicle available as part of the Onto service (for which charges vary).

Whilst the monthly fee for usage may initially seem uncompetitive versus more traditional contract hire and PCP rates, the total cost of ownership for the customer is actually comparable when the absence of a lump-sum deposit and the inclusion of insurance, charging and servicing are taken into account.

All-inclusive package
That package includes fully comprehensive insurance with breakdown cover for drivers aged between 30 and 80, up to 1,000 miles-worth of electricity accessible monthly through membership of the BP Pulse and Shell Recharge networks with their thousands of UK charging stations, and servicing, including agreed wear and tear provision. It also includes specification enhancements, such as metallic paint, that are often categorised as extra cost options in conventional leasing agreements.

The key interface – quite literally – between Onto and its customers is the Onto app, which is downloadable from the App Store or on Google Play. It replaces physical keys for users of the service, who instead lock, unlock and start their cars using the app on their smartphone.

In the case of the e-tron, the app also supplements the car’s onboard e-tron route planner by showing public charging locations at which users can top up with the electricity included as part of their subscription using their BP Pulse or Shell Recharge charge cards. Charging is of course also possible at compatible public points that are not part of the BP Pulse or Shell Recharge network, and at home using the appropriate cable supplied with the e-tron, but any costs incurred in these instances are not covered by the subscription.

Based on the perennially popular S line trim with its more sporting slant, the Black Edition specification available for the e-tron as part of the Onto service enhances the SUV‘s profile further still with some premium touches. Privacy glass, matrix LED headlamps and 21-inch alloy wheels with a black finish that is carried through into the singleframe, the front and rear bumper inserts, the window trims, the roof rails and the door mirror surrounds are key external features. Lowered adaptive sport air suspension also contributes to the purposeful stance, and of course also to composure through corners. 

Inside, S line detailing, front sport seats finished in contrast-stitched Valcona leather and additional dashboard, door and centre console upholstery in Twin leather subtly signal intent while lending the appropriate air of luxury. Naturally this is also complemented by upscale technology in the form of features such as the Audi Virtual Cockpit, the Audi smartphone interface, Audi Phone box wireless smartphone connectivity and charging and the touch-screen MMI Touch system with its dual monitors. This serves as the gateway to MMI Navigation Plus and to the many online services available as part of the Audi Connect portfolio.

235-mile driving range
The e-tron Black Edition is currently available in 50 quattro form with a WLTP-certified range of up to 183 miles, or as a 55 quattro capable of travelling for up to 235 miles between charges, and it is this second, more powerful version which Onto has chosen to expand its service offer. Its two electric motors deliver a system output of 300 kW and can make up to 664 Nm (489.7 lb-ft) of torque available within a fraction of a second, enabling acceleration from a standing start to 62mph in 5.7 seconds and a top speed electronically-limited to 124mph. The 95 kWh battery that makes this possible can charge with direct current (DC) at up to 150 kW, meaning that approximately half an hour is all that is required to restore 80 per cent of its capacity at fast charging stations.

The e-tron SUV symbolises the beginning of a transformation for Audi, as the brand famous for Vorsprung durch Technik seeks to reorient itself as a pioneer of sustainable mobility. The company plans not only to roll out an electrified product range that will be 30-strong by 2025, including no less than 20 fully electric models, but also to maximise the environmental compatibility of its production facilities and processes. Its fundamental objective is to operate all its sites carbon neutrally and reduce its overall carbon footprint by 30 per cent by 2025, and ultimately to become a wholly net-zero carbon-emission company by 2050.