Try it, love it, subscribe to electric vehicle (EV) use. Research by Carbar, an Australian subscription service for personal vehicles finds that 57% of drivers say that the high price of purchase is the primary factor holding them back from buying an EV. In response, Carbar has teamed up with sonnen energy storage systems, to offer subscriptions on six models of EV to owners of a sonnenBatterie.
sonnenDrive launches today as part of the battery manufacturer’s plan to provide integrated technology and service solutions to customers who want to continue to lower their carbon footprint, using renewable energy generated by rooftop solar to power more aspects of their lives.
The subscription service, “makes it easier for customers to take their energy independence on the road by providing flexible, affordable access to an EV and powering it with clean energy,” said Nathan Dunn, CEO for sonnen in the Asia Pacific Region and Managing Director of sonnen Australia.
sonnenDrive prices start at $319 per week for a new 2020 MG ZS EV and range through Nissan LEAF, Hyundai IONIQ hybrid and pure EV models, and Hyundai Kona, up to $447 a week for a new Tesla Model 3.
The subscription includes registration, insurance, maintenance, servicing and roadside assistance, for exclusive use of the vehicle. There is no lock-in contract, but subscribers pay a small upfront fee upon order of the vehicle, and the first four weeks’ subscription is payable on delivery.
Customers are also required to give two weeks’ notice to end a sonnenDrive subscription, or to change vehicles, and each change of vehicle again incurs the small upfront fee.
EV subscription may be the way of the future
Carbar Founder and CEO, Des Hang, told pv magazine Australia, “Customers are still testing the water with EVs.” Some may want to “test whether their area has the infrastructure to support it before making that investment”. Others, he says, may choose to “switch to a car subscription when they upgrade” their current vehicle.
Hang adds that, “Carbar’s loyalty program is also baked into this subscription”, meaning the longer you subscribe the more you can save each year on the subscription.
Research by the Electric Vehicle Council of Australia shows that sales of electric vehicles grew 200% in Australia in 2019 — off an admittedly small base.
Carbar’s own, more recent survey of some 580 Australian drivers, including existing car subscribers indicated that 86% of subscribers would consider an EV in the next 12 months. And 69% of responders indicated they would prefer to access an EV via subscription — 11% would opt for car financing, while 5% said they would purchase their EV outright.
“We believe subscriptions will play a huge role in the widespread adoption of this new technology,” said Hang.
Housemate habits and appetite for energy
The sonnenBatterie’s intelligent energy management system, currently adapts to store and dispatch electricity according to home occupants’ energy-use profile, the rules governing local grid feed-in of excess energy, and weather forecasts that may influence a home’s rooftop solar productivity.
“While there is currently no integration that shows how much energy is used by an EV with the sonnen app, the app displays precisely how much energy is being produced and used in the household so a customer has visibility on how much energy their EV will need,” Dunn told pv magazine Australia.
The amount of energy used by an EV varies according to the model and distance travelled, and Hang says that, “Car monitoring is something Carbar is looking at in response to customer demand and we plan to implement a solution at a later date.”
Owners of a sonnenBatterie may wonder whether they will need to upgrade their storage system to power their new electric four-wheel device.
Dunn explains that the EV can be charged directly through rooftop solar and the sonnenBatterie, and that the car battery itself can provide additional storage support to the home system when needed. He adds that “sonnen customers can upgrade their capacity if they see that they need more storage”.
sonnenBatterie systems range from 5 KWh capacity and can be expanded in blocks of 2.5 KWh up to 15 KWh of storage.
sonnenDrive customers “have the added option available through Carbar to add an EV charger through Jet Charge at home for an $800 estimated one-off fee”, says Dunn.
Drive like a European
Although sonnen doesn’t provide figures on its battery installations in each country, it says its number of worldwide installations is now around 60,000. And that the sonnenDrive subscription model has already had success in Europe.
“Our experience with sonnenDrive in Germany has been very positive and we think that the combination of an EV with rooftop solar and energy storage is what the household of the future will look like,” Dunn told pv magazine Australia.