With an announcement in early February 2023, Hyundai has made its first leap into subscription programs by giving its customers a whole new way to drive a Hyundai. Although Hyundai isn’t the first to offer some type of subscription program, they are the first to try and bring it all together on a bigger scale.
Hyundai hopes with its new Evolve+ program that it has found a way to attract new and existing customers to its lineup of cars with a heavy emphasis on electric vehicles. If Hyundai can succeed — if they do not follow in the footsteps of Cadillac’s short-lived subscription program — they could help establish a whole new precedent in the U.S. automobile industry.
Let’s take a look at Hyundai’s new Evolve+ program and see not only how it differs from a lease but how it compares to the competition.
What is Hyundai Evolve+?
On February 9, 2023, at the Chicago Auto Show, Hyundai announced the Evolve+ subscription program as a new service to help gain more flexibility than ever to drive a Hyundai. According to Hyundai, one of the central aspects of this program is that it’s incredibly easy for consumers to pick up and drive off the lot with a new vehicle without requiring any paperwork and, most importantly, no commitment.
What’s most notable about Evolve+ is what it offers as part of the subscription fee. Hyundai is not only making a special subscription price for the vehicle itself but this cost includes insurance and built-in maintenance costs. Hyundai has built this partnership in coordination with their dealership partners so subscribers have a direct point of contact not only to pick up a vehicle but a place to go for any required or surprise maintenance.
Perhaps the biggest hope for Hyundai with Evolve+ is that it will bring customers closer than ever to become interested in an electric vehicle. Hyundai has committed to going all-electric, starting with its Genesis brand by 2030, and to do that, it needs to bump up the level of interest in EV cars across the board.
By subscribing with Evolve+, potential EV buyers will have a unique opportunity to truly test out the limits and benefits of such a vehicle before committing to a long term lease or purchase.
How Does Evolve+ Work?
One of the biggest selling points around Evolve+ as highlighted by Hyundai is the ease with which this process takes place. Basically, everything is done through a mobile app where potential subscribers can look at different vehicle options, set up their payment terms, and then take the app to a dealership, pick up their vehicle, and drive away.
As Hyundai firmly believes this will be a simple process, they’ve left out all of the steps you need to go through once you decide that Hyundai’s Evolve+ program is right for you:
- You will start by downloading the Evolve+ app for either iPhone/iPad or Google Play for Android devices.
- Once the app is downloaded, potential subscribers will start searching for a vehicle by inputting their ideal price point and their local zip code. Once this data is entered, search results will provide a list of available inventory that meets their criteria as well as the monthly term (price).
- It’s important to note that the price is the price, there is no negotiation or discussion once you arrive at the dealership as these prices have been all pre-determined.
- As soon as the appropriate vehicle is identified and selected, subscribers will then be asked to log into an existing account or create a new one with the Evolve+ program.
- Upon setting up (or logging into) an account, potential subscribers will need to add additional information to verify that they are qualified.
- Qualifications requirements include being over 25 years of age, having at least three years of a clean driving record, a credit score of 650 or higher, a valid U.S. driver’s license and a valid credit card in your name. Debit and prepaid credit cards are not accepted.
- Right after qualification takes place, subscribers will then enter a credit card for use in reserving their chosen vehicle.
- The last and final step once all of the previous steps are finished is to head down to a dealership during showroom hours and pick up the vehicle.
Every subscription term lasts for 28 days and includes 1,000 miles of driving per month. For anyone who exceeds that distance within a 28-day period, their subscription account is charged an additional $20 for every 100 miles, up to an extra 1,500 miles of distance. Any miles over the additional 1,500 miles (so 2,500 and above) are then charged at a rate of $1.00 per mile.
For example, if you drove 4,000 miles in a month, you’d be paying whatever the subscription cost is, plus an additional $300 for the first 1,500 miles over the allotted limit. From there, you would then be paying a whopping $1,500 extra for the remaining 1,500 miles for the 4,000 miles you drove that month. While it’s unlikely many people will be in this situation, it’s important to understand how quickly costs can add up.
Another important takeaway to know up front is that any unused miles out of the 1,000 miles provided each month as part of the subscription plan roll over to the next month should you continue your subscription. In other words, if you only use 500 miles in June and roll your subscription over to July, you then have 1,500 miles for use in July.
While you can cancel at any point, Hyundai has only somewhat acknowledged the biggest hurdle toward success with Evolve+, and that is where to charge. Nowhere in the price is there inclusion of any type of charging or support for installing a home charger. Hyundai says they are looking at how to best include charging in the subscription model but did not have any details as of February 2023. It seems unlikely Hyundai will see any type of big numbers with their subscription program until concerns over charging are resolved.
Why is Evolve+ Not Considered a Lease?
As Evolve+ is a monthly subscription cost, there are bound to be some comparisons between it and more traditional car contracts like a lease or financing. The financing model is pretty straightforward, but with leasing, it’s easy to see how people could confuse Evolve+ for a short-term lease. With a lease, you are essentially renting a car for an agreed-upon time period with a finite number of miles available per year.
General lease terms usually are around 36 months and for either 10,000 or 12,000 miles a year. The most important thing to know with a lease is that you cannot hand the car in early nor can you cancel the lease at any time. Also, there is a lot of paperwork.
Unlike a lease, Evolve+ is very much designed to be a short-term solution for most people who only need a car for a month or two at a time. Here’s a closer look at how leasing, purchasing, and subscribing will look for most people looking to use Evolve+ for a 2022 Hyunday Ioniq 5 RWD EV.
|$400 (one time)
|Monthly Mile Allowance
|1,000 (12,000 miles per year)
|6 years (72 months)
|3 years (36 months)
|Variable from $899
|Monthly Mile Allowance
Because you can cancel at any time without penalty and can hand the car and keys right back to a dealership, Evolve+ is very different from a lease. While a lease is likely to be less expensive when looking at monthly payments, it’s important to remember that the Evolve+ also includes insurance and any maintenance costs, so the overall cost of ownership could be smaller than you might initially think.
Who Should Use Evolve+?
Hyundai has definitely made it clear with Evolve+ that they believe there is a large enough market out there for a subscription plan like this. They have even identified some groups they consider to be the most likely to jump to a subscription plan. College students who are only home for the summer or workers that are on remote assignments are great examples of groups that could benefit from a short-term subscription.
The same goes for snowbirds who only use a second home a few months out of the year and don’t want to ship their primary car(s) back and forth. Hyundai is also counting on the idea that these groups are the right targets to try an electric car and then convert over to a Hyundai electric vehicle on a more permanent basis.
Where is Evolve+ Available?
As of February 2023, Hyundai indicates there are only six states currently in the test market for the Evolve+ program but did not name these states. Of these six states, only seven cities will be part of the initial launch program, though more cities and starts will come in the future if Hyundai sees initial success with their program.
How Does Evolve+ Compare to Other Subscription Programs?
Hyundai Evolve+ isn’t the first subscription program on the block and it does differ quite a bit from some of the existing programs around. Plans like Access by BMW, Audi Select, and Nissan Switch remain very limited with availability in only one or two cities but there are two plans that can be properly compared to Hyundai Evolve+.
Care by Volvo is available in 12 states in the U.S. and offers a flexible subscription program that you can cancel after five months. Like Hyundai, insurance is included as is 1,250 monthly miles plus 24/7 roadside assistance. Volvo will also cover any factory scheduled maintenance costs every 10,000 miles. Costs run between $600-$850 per month depending on which car you select, but the biggest hindrance is the 24-month time requirement which makes Care by Volvo feel like a lease, even if you can cancel after five months.
Porsche Drive is the only other major subscription program that offers availability in more than one state. Unlike Hyundai, Porsche starts with a $595 fee to sign up and offers two plans with one being available for a single-car subscription and a second plan for multiple vehicles. Terms are offered for one or three months, and if you opt for three months, the activation fee is waived. Based on the value of the Porsche lineup, the first tier is $2,100 per month with the second tier priced at $3,100 a month and the latter Tier is the only way to get a 911. Single-car plans allow for 1,500 miles a month and include both insurance and maintenance.
Even if the initial price gives you a bit of sticker shock, there is an argument to be made that there is a market for people who just need a car for a short period of time. There is no question that Evolve+ is less expensive than a long-term rental and you don’t have to worry about anything regarding maintenance or insurance.
Whether that is enough to make monthly car subscriptions a truly competitive option in the marketplace remains to be seen, but Hyundai is undoubtedly arriving with some of the best pricing and benefits around.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Art Konovalov/Shutterstock.com.