Netflix for Cars? Cadillac Launches Subscription Service

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Book by Cadillac lets drivers switch vehicles on a whim for a monthly fee.
Book by Cadillac lets drivers switch vehicles on a whim for a monthly fee.  Credit: Cadillac
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Cadillac is offering a new program for luxury buyers who are afraid of commitment. The General Motors brand today announced what it described as a "first-of-its kind luxury vehicle subscription service" called Book by Cadillac that allows drivers to switch vehicles on a whim if they pay a monthly fee.

For a monthly fee of $1,500, members can use a mobile app to reserve one of several Cadillac models and have it delivered via "white-glove concierge service," according to Cadillac. The fee includes registration, taxes, insurance and maintenance costs. There is no mileage limit. A 30-day cancellation notice is required, according to a Cadillac spokesman.

In a press release, Cadillac stated that "members can just as easily take to the winding roads in a performance V Series and enjoy a back-mountain winter ski trip in an Escalade in the same week. Alternatively, they can keep an SUV during the winter months and switch to a performance sedan during the summer, with each vehicle picked up and delivered to their doorstep."

Membership is month-to-month with no long-term commitment required, according to the brand. The service will launch first in the New York metro area with other unspecified cities planned. Vehicles included in the program include current-year models of the XT5, CT6, Escalade and V Series. Cadillac plans to plug the service with "targeted marketing outreach via Cadillac partners and certain print publications," the spokesman said.

"Book by Cadillac is an innovative new option targeted at a growing class of luxury drivers searching for access to various cars over time, dependent on their individual needs, coupled with a hassle-free white-glove exchange," Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac's chief marketing officer, stated in the press release.

The program comes as automakers experiment with various models to appeal to city-dwelling drivers who might not want the long-term commitment of traditional vehicle ownership. Some automakers have launched their own car-sharing services. In early 2016, for instance, General Motors launched a car-sharing brand called Maven that operates much like Zipcar.

However, finding new solutions in the so-called sharing economy is not always easy. Last March, Ford Credit launched a pilot program in Austin, Texas, called Ford Credit Link that allowed up to six customers to share a lease.

But as Automotive News reported in early December, Ford has shut down the program after lackluster demand. Ford Credit CEO Joy Falotico told Automotive News that Ford Credit had trouble luring people because they were afraid of joint liability. "The contract was joint and severally liable, and so for consumers to come together that maybe weren't related, that was something that they were concerned about," she said. "And secondly, we learned that we probably needed to create what I'll call a 'Match.com' that brings consumers together as part of the solution, and we didn't have that. So consumers were having trouble finding their group to share with."

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