Car Subscriptions Could Solve Australia’s EV Adoption Crisis, According To Visionary CEO

Accelerating change.

Car Subscriptions Could Solve Australia’s EV Adoption Crisis, According To Visionary CEO

Image: George Fetting

In an exclusive interview with Chris Noone, CEO of Carly, we delve into the transformative potential of car subscriptions and their power to address the uncertainties and barriers associated with EVs.

When you hear success stories like F1’s Mark Webber driving an EV across Australia, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the EV revolution has already been a radical success. However, when we turn to phenomena like China’s EV graveyards, it becomes clear that we have a long way to go in overhauling our relationship with our cars.

One man who thinks he might have found a solution to this crisis in Australia is Chris Noone, CEO of Carly Car Subscription, a visionary car subscription service that offers Aussies the chance to “own the moment, not the car”. When saving up for a new car takes too long and signing up for a traditional loan or lease inhibits that all-important flexibility to change your car, Carly offers a happy and much-needed third way.

But how exactly could car subscriptions change everything? Read our full interview below to find out.

WATCH: ‘EV Graveyards’ prove manufacturer capacity exists, but adoption must be accelerated.

To better understand Noone’s perspective, we began by exploring his pretty unique career journey. He started his professional life in marketing but soon felt the magnetic pull of technology, drawing him first into the captivating world of video games:

“I started my career in marketing, but I felt the lure of technology and wanted to get into something more creative. So, I took a pretty 180-degree turn and moved into video games.”

Chris Noone, CEO of Carly

Within the gaming industry, Noone took on a number of impressive roles, from distributing some of the earliest video games in Australia to running Asian operations for a video game publisher called MicroProse, his journey even encompassed a brief detour into the early days of mobile content, working with Vodafone on launching some of the first mobile games in the world just as smartphones stood on the precipice of total ubiquity.

After several years in London, Noone returned to Australia and took a role with a joint venture between Microsoft and PBL, where he was involved in the early days of mobile advertising. These experiences equipped him with invaluable insights into how mobile technology and digital content were rapidly reshaping the landscape of consumer engagement forever.

However, as the winds of change swept through the industry, driven by tech giants like Apple and Google, he realized that another transformation was already underway…

The Beginnings Of Carly

This realisation marked an important turning point. Noone recognised that the traditional model of car ownership was evolving and that the industry was ripe for innovation:

“That’s when I started looking around for other opportunities and was approached by the predecessor of Carly.”

Chris Noone, CEO of Carly

Initially, the business operated as a peer-to-peer car rental platform, allowing individual car owners to rent their vehicles to others while providing trust, certainty, payments, and insurance to ensure a safe and pleasant experience. He has since steered the company through a profound transformation.

This journey from peer-to-peer rentals to car subscriptions signifies a pivot that aligns with evolving consumer needs and market dynamics. Chris Noone is candid about the rationale behind this transition:

“In that time, we pivoted away from rentals into car subscriptions, and the journey started in 2019. We’re now 100% focused on car subscriptions.”

Chris Noone, CEO of Carly

Flexibility Is The New Black

One of the central challenges facing the car subscription industry at present time is making people aware that such a service exists and extolling its many virtues. As any good CEO should, Noone believes this challenge also presents a significant opportunity.

He’s quick to emphasise that it’s not merely about making car subscription services accessible; it’s about explaining why this model offers a compelling alternative to traditional financing or outright car purchases. Education, as Chris Noone underscores, is key to empowering consumers to make informed choices.

A distinguishing feature of car subscriptions, as emphasized by Chris Noone, is flexibility:

“Our customers are the sort of people who would normally buy or finance a car, but for whatever reason, they can’t commit to a three- or four-year contract.”

Chris Noone, CEO of Carly

This flexibility is designed to cater to individuals whose lives — like so many of ours — are marked by change, whether that be shifting work commitments, evolving lifestyle preferences, or the uncertainty of future circumstances; Noone argues that car subscriptions offer a valuable solution for those who require access to a vehicle without locking themselves into long-term financial commitments.

With luxury car manufacturers like Aston Martin gearing up EV production, the question becomes how to roll out these vehicles to consumers in a cost-effective way. Image: Aston Martin

Car Subscriptions And Electric Vehicles

With electric vehicles at the forefront of the automotive industry’s evolution, Noone delves into how car subscriptions could play a pivotal role in easing the transition to EVs, especially in the Australian market. He acknowledges the widespread uncertainty surrounding electric vehicles.

“A lot of people and companies are saying, ‘we think we will [adopt electric vehicles], but we’ve never driven one before.'”

Chris Noone, CEO of Carly

It’s this uncertainty, combined with concerns about charging infrastructure, range anxiety, and resale values, that Noone believes car subscriptions can address more effectively than anything else available right now:

“The fixed subscription allows you to subscribe to an electric vehicle for a minimum of 30 days… You can hand the vehicle back when you’re satisfied with it, or when you decide that you want to go and buy an electric vehicle.”

Chris Noone, CEO of Carly

This approach not only allows potential EV adopters to experience electric vehicles in real-life situations without the risk associated with long-term commitments, but the in-built flexibility represents a significant departure from the conventional approach to vehicle ownership whereby buyers commit to long-term financing or leasing arrangements without the option to experiment with electric vehicles before making a more substantial investment.

Electric Vehicles Are Tech, Not Cars

One of the most thought-provoking perspectives shared by Noone is his view of electric vehicles as tech products. Drawing parallels with the rapid evolution of mobile phones and other tech gadgets, he said this:

“Electric vehicles are essentially software technology products. People want to upgrade them more often to access new features.”

Chris Noone, CEO of Carly

This perspective challenges the traditional concept of car ownership, where consumers tend to retain vehicles for several years or even decades at a time. Instead, Noone envisions a future where people seek more frequent upgrades to access the latest technological advancements in their electric vehicles.

Moreover, the traditional approach to car ownership may not be cost-effective when dealing with rapidly advancing technology in electric vehicles. As a result, he believes that car subscriptions could serve as the ideal model for accommodating this demand for frequent EV upgrades. In short:

“We think that subscription is a solution to all of those concerns.”

Chris Noone, CEO of Carly

Final Thoughts

In a rapidly evolving automotive landscape, car subscriptions are emerging as a flexible and low-risk solution for those seeking to navigate the transition to electric vehicles. In fact, businesses like Carly could hold the key to addressing the challenges of EV adoption and transforming the way we think about personal transportation in a fast-changing world.

Watch this space…