By on January 6, 2017

Cadillac ATS-V.

If you’ve ever found yourself buying someone a $10,000 handbag or worrying that not enough of your clothing is made from cashmere or silk, you’ll want to know that Cadillac will let you “subscribe” to its cars for a tidy monthly sum of $1,500.

“Book” by Cadillac is a $500 app that lets you select the most premium offerings from the brand and have it delivered to your door. However, you’re not leasing or purchasing a vehicle from General Motors’ flagship brand — you’re just borrowing one. Cadillac is touting this as some sort of transformative, fancy-free way to own a car. Still, it doesn’t actually alleviate most of the problems associated with car ownership, especially not in the urban markets it plans to test the service in. 

I suppose this could be a way to live with various Cadillac models and discover which one speaks to you, but it’s still difficult to endorse “booking” a premium luxury vehicle over purchasing one. Depending on your insurance rate, the monthly expenses could almost match cost of purchasing a CTS-V. However, keep in mind that you don’t get to retain the vehicle. Leasing would typically be the cheaper option.

Car-sharing services certainly have their place, typically in dense urban areas where you don’t need routine access to a vehicle but might find yourself wanting a coupe for a weekend excursion or a van to pick up some furniture with. ZipCar — for example — allows you to select from its entire fleet, pick the car you want, and drop it off whenever you’re done with it. You don’t pay for gas, you don’t need to interact with another human being, and you don’t need to worry about where you’ll park it when you aren’t using it anymore.

Cadillac’s model is, by contrast, very limiting. Users have access to an app which allows them to request a swap between current-year Cadillacs, including the XT5, CT6, Escalade, ATS-V, and CTS-V. Provided that you request prior to 3 p.m., a well-dressed person will deliver the new car to your door in exchange for whatever you were previously driving. You can swap cars up to eighteen times in a year and don’t have to pay for insurance, registration, or maintenance. However, you are always in possession of a car until you cancel the monthly subscription.

So, again, why not just buy or lease it? Considering that the more expensive Cadillac can be gotten from a dealership for well under $800 a month, the best you could hope for from Book is to break even (after signing fees, a sizable insurance premium, and an unexpected servicing or two).

If you need a non-traditional vehicular solution, there are much cheaper options available. If you want variety of premium cars, Truo will let you rent your neighbor’s Maybach for a day and even Enterprise has its “Exotic Collection.” However, if you just want to tool around in a variety of top-trimmed American automobiles and don’t care about losing some money, maybe Cadillac’s Book is for you.

While General Motors anticipates bringing the service into other markets, it will first be made available in the New York Metropolitan area starting February 1.

[Image: General Motors]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

59 Comments on “Cadillac Will Let Fickle People Borrow from its Fleet for $1,500 a Month...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    My assumption is that DeadWeight will be the first in line to sign up. ;-)

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    I find the concept intriguing, actually, and I can see the potential appeal…

    …Just not for a Cadillac.

    It will be interesting to see the response from manufacturers whose vehicles are actually desired by those able to afford such a service.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      My sentiments exactly. Now, if this were Mercedes-Benz and the option included, say, an S550, then (considering that S-Class leases themselves are $1,500 / mo with a down payment) this might not be a bad bet. Even if it were closer to $2K, it wouldn’t be too bad.

      But Cadillac is hardly in the position to charge $1,500 a month. If anything, Cadillac should take a loss and charge more like $800 / mo, because the fact is that the Upper Crust is not driving Cadillacs (other than maybe gaudy Escalades), but this could be a clever way to draw people back to the brand.

      Another thing is that in NYC in particular, parking / garage fees can add a lot to the price of car-ownership; does this help alleviate those costs for subscribers? Also, what are the mileage limits?

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        Agreed, $2000 (or even a bit more) for such access to the M-B line seems more reasonable than $1500 for Cadillacs. The brand just isn’t “there” yet.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          I don’t disagree. But there are a lot of New Yorkers who don’t know cars that well, and will get into a new Cadillac and be impressed. For them, the fact that the new E-class is slightly nicer inside than the CTS, or that the GLE has better ‘ring times than the XT5 is unimportant.

          • 0 avatar
            Middle-Aged Miata Man

            They probably aren’t aware of those details, sure, but I’ll bet more than a few of them remember Sevilles, Broughams, and Fleetwoods. Need I add those memories aren’t likely to be positive?

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Well, the GLE-Class and the XT5 aren’t really competitors. The XT5 is closer to the GLC-Class in terms of transaction prices and customer targeting. But more than that, I think Cadillac would need to make the price of BOOK alluring enough that relatively-affluent New Yorkers were *forced* to stop in and check it out…in order for this to work. But at $1,500 / mo, most would-be converts will probably scoff and go check out Audi or something, instead.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        “Another thing is that in NYC in particular, parking / garage fees can add a lot to the price of car-ownership;”

        This was my thought. My monthly garage bill is substantial. I looked into car-sharing, but the hourly nature combined with my primary use model being to get out of town on weekends, nixed that idea. I would happily pay $800-900/month for a luxury car service that covered insurance, garaging and parking. They can even have the car during the week, I wouldn’t care.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Oy. I bet. How are you liking the MKZ (IIRC?)

          • 0 avatar
            bunkie

            I really like it. It has a nice package of features and it feels lively underfoot (with the 3.7 and AWD) and it corners confidently in a way that my CTS wagon never quite managed. It’s quiet and comfortable. The panoramic roof and the massaging seats are wonderful. For the negative, the SYNC system leaves a bit to be desired, the sound system could be better, the styling is a bit bland and I miss a number of informational things (individual tire pressure from the TPMS, for example).

            It’s an easy car to live with, especially as I bought it at a serious discount from sticker as a 17K lease return.

  • avatar
    GoHuskers

    I find the concept patently silly.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Cadillac: “We Never Run Out Of More ‘Tard*”

    *”Book” a XT5, CT6, Escalade, ATS-V, or CTS-V for more than what a lease payment on a $110,000 Mercedes S550 or similarly priced and superior to Cadillac vehicle would cost (a Lexus LS460 would be about 1/2 at around $800 per month).

    **On an annualized basis, Cadillacs we literally can’t give away cost $18,000 per year to “book” under this special program.

    ***Free Streaming Video of Cringe-Worthy Movie, ‘Entourage’ with each 30-day $1,500 booking of 4 cylinder Cadillac CT6 (even though actually attractive Cadillac Ciel Concept was utilized in actual film).

    ****#DareGreatly

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      No surprise that DW is not a fan. I know $1,500 sounds like a lot, but it includes insurance – in Manhattan. If you could work it so you didn’t have to pay for parking, then it actually isn’t a crazy amount of money for the target market.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        I agree, but does that “target market” want to drive Cadillacs?

        I’m not being flippant; in my experience working with HNW individuals over the past decade, I haven’t seen a single one of them behind the wheel of a Caddy (or a Lincoln.) Warren Buffett’s XTS is a notable exception, but hardly the rule.

        That said – and, granted, I don’t live in NYC – I might consider this an interesting alternative at less than $1000/month, given that it seems I could walk away at any time. Especially if I didn’t also have to spend $500 upfront for the app that grants me the privilege of being able to consider the option.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I like this idea. If you’re not sure what car you’d like to buy or lease, this gives you a chance to live with one for a few days and then swap it out. The biggest downside is that you’re limited to just Cadillac. They should offer this for the entire GM line and adjust pricing accordingly – your time with a Chevy would cost less than with a Cadillac.

    For GM, this could be a huge boon if they expand it outside of just Cadillac. Let people drive an SS for a few days, then a Suburban, then a Volt, then a CT6 and then an Acadia.

    Sure, Turo offers that kind of flexibility with a lot of driving around, new contracts, new owners. This is a 1 stop shop. As has been said, the greatest luxury is time.

    For me, I wouldn’t want this for more than a month. GM gets paid well for the service, and likely gets some customers they would not have gotten in the past to at least try what they have.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Now *that’s* not a bad idea. I’d love some time behind the new diesel Colorado and Canyon, for example, although I understand those are selling as quickly as they can make them.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Yes, “fickle” is the best way to describe this. For some, a 2-year lease is just too long?

    It must be very expensive for Cadillac to offer flexible, on-demand selection like that.

    Imagine the looks you’d get, rolling into work, the club, daycare, McDonalds each week with a different new Cadillac.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Of course everyone hates on this ***proposed marketing concept***, because, Cadillac.

    Whatever.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The total outlay is $18,000 annually (I assume per person). If one had deductible income, mileage were unlimited, and effectively zero deductible insurance were included this could be somewhat compelling (esp if spouses could be occasional drivers).

    Cadillac is sitting on inventory it cannot sell or lease for the amounts it wants which depreciates by the day. This is a creative way of getting some use of this inventory.

    I saw an MY15 Escalade Platinum with no money down being advertised on Leasetrader for $1650/mo. One could opt for Johann’s scheme, still get the Escalade, but now get free insurance and the option to switch to a CT6 or CTS-V for a weekend.

    I do like the idea but I think it will largely not be popular because most of the people who can afford to blow $1500 a month, on a car, are in the Maybach/Rolls/Aston/Ferrari demographic and I doubt Cadillac registers as an option.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah I have to agree, it really doesn’t seem like that crazy an idea to me either.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’m glad we agree. Another thought I had is wouldn’t three years of a “subscription” to this be enough for me to buy a stake in a successful used car lot? Dealer principles operate this way with their personal vehicles, except they own them.

        • 0 avatar

          I think the car lot comes with a bit of baggage thou. Back in the 90’s I knew a guy who owned one so he could have a dealer plate for his car collection (which included a not street legal Callaway at the time) Seems a bit extreme but what they hey.

        • 0 avatar
          yamahog

          Really? You only need 60k to become involved in a used car lot?

          How would you recommend approaching the lot, or what would you look for?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I could probably start one with only $60K here but my inventory would probably be limited (and my personal paychecks would probably be commission only). Ten years ago I could have started a serious lot with that kind of money, you would not believe how cheap used cars were then compared to the inflation now. A successful wholesaler I knew was only able to break into the business because his wife was an attorney and supported them when he started up.

            If I was going to look for a lot to invest in, I would start by making friends with people in the business. Sales guys, mechanics, try to find out where dealer principles hang out (bars etc). Much of the used car world is murky and many real deals are made over drugs, drinking, or criminal associations (yes, mafia is real). After a few weeks I would start shopping around the idea of investing in an existing lot and gauge the reactions of your new contacts. This is what I would do because I have a FT job otherwise and I can’t devote much time to running a lot, I would look to be a silent partner. Another option would be to buy one, although that will prob be more.

            http://www.bizbuysell.com/auto-dealership-businesses-for-sale/

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Insightful.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Wait, 28, you aren’t pouring vitriol on Cadillac…that’s grounds for an immediate lifetime ban!

      I’m with you, I think this might be a good idea for a certain slice of buyers. I wonder what the tax impact would be…could you just write off the whole payment as a business expense, versus depreciation?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I call a spade a spade, and maybe JdN finally came up with something worthwhile.

        I’d be curious to see a breakdown by an accountant because I don’t understand the tax implications here (but I imagine they are in play and GM had already calculated them)

  • avatar

    I like the idea personally, CT6 most of the year Esacalade for bad weather and hauling duties, ats or cts for some fun in the summer. Of course renting and leasing is cheaper but the delivery service and known monthly payment seem appealing if you have the cash for it.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This is basically a premium rental service, isn’t it? This sort of thing is already done with high-end, short-term housing* in some urban centres, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it for cars.

    * like you would see for a temporary high-power exec, actor/director, etc.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    For a flat $1,500 a month, Cadillac will pay for registration, insurance and maintenance in addition to providing the vehicle. In an expensive place like NYC, the package could be a better deal than leasing and paying for the other items yourself.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I think the concept is sound, but the price is too high. And yea, in a place like Manhattan, where parking and full coverage insurance on anything halfway decent can easily hit $1500, this is not that crazy.

    Personally I would love to do a subscription model to cars in general, even if they are used. Just service and insure them and give me roadside assistance… I will deal with the rest.

    • 0 avatar

      Seriously FCA or GM give me access to the fleet (maybe give me a discount to not access Viper and Vette) for a flate fee. Awesome for serial car traders.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      I’m not reading that parking is included. Just insurance and T&L don’t apply. So if it costs $1500 + parking in Manhattan is there really a market that doesn’t have an MB?

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      Reading it from second hand sources, but it sounds like you’re always in possession of a car (meaning, you have to figure out parking) and you can only swap out a car 18 times/yr. Can’t get an escalade for every weekend trip upstate, or an ATS-V for every autox and an XTS for M-F.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    They’d do better, at least in urban markets, by setting up a combination subscription/rental service that would get you an immaculately clean Cadillac within an hour when you need one. Maybe a $300/month base fee and then $50/day. No one in those markets who doesn’t already pay to own a car by conventional means is going to want to pay for parking a car full-time on top of this payment.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I get the appeal of this scheme as it allows you to swap cars depending on your needs. You can commute in an ATS-V and then swap to an Escalade when your family comes to town and to a CT6 for a long road trip.

    However, the problems are two-fold:

    1. The Cadillac range of compelling products is simply too small.

    2. It alienates buyers that don’t need a car 100% of the time. If they charged by the day this would become a lot more attractive to urban buyers that may only need cars on weekends and vacations.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Last year I rented a car in Manhattan for a day to drive the family to Philadelphia. It was a POS Mitsubishi from Avis and when all was said and done, cost about $150. If I lived in NYC, however, the $800 or so monthly parking fee, plus the daily $40 or so for destination parking would make me lean heavily to Uber or taxi. For the occasional trip out of NYC, Zip cars are always nearby.
    What I mean is that it’s not the cost that will make this fail, it’s the fact that it’s a Cadillac.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    It seems like a good idea, but it really points out Cadillac’s main problem. It’s aimed at a market segment that is ceasing to exist. The rich are too rich for this plan, the 99% can’t afford it, and the sweet spot has been vacated. That likely applies to the entire brand, not just this proposal. Trying to catch the mobile during the transition doesn’t work right now.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    Hey, I’d do it once! For my birthday, I closed down (or rather opened on a normally off day) a cocktail bar in town and wrote a $1,000 check. I’d definitively write a $1,500 check for an ats-v with stick next year. Not a bad way to satisfy “once-in-life” v8 with stick desire, and my wife loves stick shift cars to boot!

    Now whether it’s a good business idea, i don’t know.

  • avatar
    hachee

    Conceptually, I don’t think this is actually a bad DEAL. So you’re getting the car and insurance for your $1500, you get to swap out cars often if that’s your thing or it’s necessary for whatever reason, and (I assume) you’re never driving a car that’s more than a year old. While in practical terms, you can get a high end MB or BMW 3 year lease plus insurance for the same money, you’re also not getting a new MB or BMW every year, much less a few months. If you did even a one year lease on an S Class, it would be much higher than $1500 per month.

    The problem is, I imagine the market for those who would prefer various new Cadillacs vs. a 3 year lease on an S-Class is quite miniscule. Most people just don’t care that much.

    I can see a car enthusiast doing this for a month or two, or as someone said, someone in town for a few months at a time.

  • avatar

    creative idea.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Buick is rumored to be trying something similar for their target market in Palm Beach. For a monthly fee of $1,200, you start with a Buick Lacrosse, and have the right to switch at any time to:
      – a bottle of Geritol
      – white patent leather loafers
      – Life Alert emergency pendant
      – coffin

      They’re calling the service DEPENDS.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    I find this to be an excellent concept: you can have basically “one car” and multiple vehicles. And, if Book is rolled out nation-wide, have them in various locations. More than a few people own two or more homes and enjoy activities that call for different types of vehicles. Book accommodates this.

  • avatar
    mdensch

    Not to be confused with the Westin Book Cadillac. That costs more than $1500/month but they make your bed every day. (And it’s in Detroit, not NYC.)


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States