An electric vehicle “subscription” service launched by Mercury Energy has proved a hit, with most of the cars on offer snapped up within hours.

The service allows people to drive an electric vehicle without the commitment of actually buying one.

Customers pay a monthly fee and can simply hand the car back when they are done.

Chief marketing officer Julia Jack said there was a “new generation of drivers out there who see car ownership as optional”.

The description of providing cars “as a service” mimics the language of the software industry, where buying cloud software on subscription has become the predominant sales model.

Mercury is charging $469 a month for a second-hand first-generation Nissan Leaf, falling to $399 a month if customers agree to a minimum six-month term.

Those fees include comprehensive insurance, maintenance, unlimited kilometres, roadside assistance and free delivery and pick-up by a “concierge” at the beginning and end of each “subscription”.

For comparison, the cheapest advertised price for renting a Toyota Corolla in Auckland for the month of September through a traditional rental arrangement is currently $602, according to a Stuff search   ………. more