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Hyundai Thinks It Has Cracked the Subscription Code with EV-Focused Evolve+ Service

$699 gets you an electric car plus insurance, maintenance and more

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 front
  • Hyundai is launching Evolve+, a vehicle subscription service for EVs.
  • Starting at $699 for Kona Electric and $899 for the Ioniq 5, the fee covers insurance, maintenance and 1,000 miles of driving per period.
  • Available now at dealerships in six states, with more to come.

Car subscription services started appearing a few years ago as an intriguing alternative to purchasing or leasing a vehicle. The idea was simple: The subscriber was charged a single monthly fee that covered the vehicle, insurance and maintenance, and you could cancel at any time. Unfortunately, they didn't really take off in a major way at the automaker level; aside from the still active Porsche Drive program, a number of manufacturers from Cadillac to Nissan have launched and shuttered vehicle subscription plans over the past few years.

However, Hyundai thinks it's cracked the code to subscriptions. Today at the Chicago Auto Show, the automaker announced the Evolve+ subscription program, which will solely focus on electric vehicles. We think it's a neat concept that allows interested shoppers to dip their toes into EV ownership to see if it's right for them. And the fact that the program includes the Hyundai Kona Electric and Hyundai Ioniq 5 means that subscribers will be able to select from two of the best electric vehicles on the market.

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Price includes the car, insurance, roadside assistance and 1,000 miles per month

Like previous subscription models touted by other manufacturers, the Hyundai Evolve+ program is comprehensive. The rate (which is assessed in 28-day increments) covers registration, insurance, maintenance, roadside assistance, access to the vehicle and up to 1,000 miles of driving. If you drive more than 1,000 miles in a period, you'll be charged $20 per 100 miles up to 1,500 miles, after which you'll pay $1 per mile. That's steep, but the mileage is more generous than the usual 10,000 miles per year allowed by leases. On the other hand, if you don't use all of your allotted miles, they will roll over if you renew the subscription.

The manufacturer's suggested rates for the Kona Electric start from $699 per 28-day period, and upgrading to the Ioniq 5 will start from $899 per period. It is worth noting, however, that at time of this article's publication, we did see some participating dealers charging less than the MSRP. There's also an initial acquisition/activation fee (suggested at $300) that is assessed when you first sign up for the program. As long as you remain in the program, or stop but renew within three months, you don't have to pay the fee again. As with the plan rates, these prices are suggested by the manufacturer. At time of publication, these rates varied between $99 and $425, depending on the dealer.

The Hyundai Evolve+ plan is live now at dealerships in these cities: Boulder, Colorado; Westminster, Colorado; Hillsboro, Oregon; Florence, South Carolina; Clarksville, Maryland; Marlton, New Jersey; and Holyoke, Massachusetts. Additional dealerships in other states are expected to come online throughout the year.

Is Hyundai Evolve+ better than buying, leasing or renting?

The Evolve+ subscription presents an alternative to buying, leasing or renting, and its value will be most apparent depending on your needs.

The Evolve+ plan is far more affordable than renting a similar vehicle, for instance. Imagine you're away from home on business for a month or longer (Hyundai also describes the scenario of a college student back home on summer break) and you need transportation. You could scrounge up a $50/day Nissan Versa from Avis, or use Evolve+ to get a far superior Kona Electric for a lot less money. You could also be between car leases or purchases (maybe you have your sights set on the upcoming Ioniq 6?) and just need a vehicle to get you through the next couple months until a new car is ready. You could also be curious about whether an EV would fit your lifestyle but don't want to take the plunge before giving one a serious test drive. All are scenarios where choosing Evolve+ would make a lot of sense.

Against leasing, the Evolve+ plan could provide some benefit depending on what you use the car for. If you drive a lot, the plan offers a superior mileage allowance compared to a lease. The 1,000-mile limit per 28 days works out to about 13,000 miles per year with Evolve+, while most leases only allow for 10,000 miles per year before you get dinged with overage charges. The monthly fee with Evolve+ could be lower once you factor in insurance and registration. The initial cash outlay might also be lower with Evolve+ depending on how you would structure the lease. Evolve+ doesn't require a down payment, other than the first period's payment up front plus that acquisition and admin fee. And you don't have a locked-in commitment with Evolve+ — if you don't like the car, or if it doesn't fit with your lifestyle, just give it back. On the downside, the Evolve+ program doesn't build equity, though you do have the option to buy the vehicle at any time if you wish.

Buying is probably a better option if you plan on driving the Kona Electric or Ioniq 5 for the long haul. Monthly payments will almost assuredly be cheaper, you'll build equity in the vehicle, and after the loan is paid off, you'll be free from the shackles of monthly payments.

Edmunds says

By focusing solely on electric vehicles, we think Hyundai Evolve+ is more compelling than other subscription services that have launched and failed over the years. It allows a one-stop experience for customers looking for commitment-free loans and those wondering if an electric vehicle might fit their lifestyle.