By on September 9, 2018


Ren Cen. GM

While we’ve bashed them for being one of the most expensive ways to acquire a vehicle, automotive subscription plans have becoming increasingly popular among premium nameplates. General Motors already has one exclusively for Cadillac but it appears that it’s setting up another for its less illustrious brands.

Late last month, the automaker filed a trademark application to register the name “DriveScription” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The document clearly states that the term will be used in association with the Goods and Services categories of automotive subscription services, rental services, and vehicle sharing. Considering that Maven already handles most of the short-term rental and ride-sharing aspects of GM’s new mobility services, DriveScription is almost certain to be the mainstream equivalent to Book by Cadillac. 

According to GM Authority, who first spotted the filing, the service appears to be an attempt to further normalize automotive subscription plans. While this doesn’t guarantee the service will reach daylight, it does prove that General Motors is working toward that end.

Assuming it doesn’t get lost in development, there’s no reason to expect it will operate any differently than other subscription services. The price point and vehicles on offer will differ, but you’ll still likely be paying a monthly fee to have access to a collection of models, auto insurance, and maintenance. It will also probably begin as a trial run in markets deemed receptive by the manufacturer, before being thrust upon the rest of the population.

Book by Cadillac initially launched in New York City in 2017 (prior to its expansion) and runs customers $1,800, plus a $500 activation fee, to drive any vehicle in the company’s lineup. Customers have the option to swap their vehicle free of charge for another several times per year. We imagine that DriveScription would ask for substantially less to offer unlimited access to makes like Buick or Chevrolet. It also probably won’t have a valet service that will deliver a new vehicle to a pre-agreed location. But the overall experience should be similar in nature.

Once General Motors makes an official announcement and includes a pricing breakdown, expect us to criticize it for being too expensive. However, there is a very slim chance that the company will keep pricing low enough to rationalize. One of our biggest gripes about the luxury subscription services was their lack of variety. You end up paying top dollar to have access to a fleet almost entirely comprised of SUVs and luxury cars. Mainstream brands are usually a little more diverse, offering everything from pickups and utility vans to comfortable sedans and economy cars. If GM can keep costs down, some customers might like the idea of being able to source every vehicle they’d ever need to borrow from one place.

[Image: General Motors]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

6 Comments on “Trademark Foreshadows Launch of GM Subscription Service ‘DriveScription’...”

  • avatar

    I have to wonder: who’s going to ensure that cars are cleaned up after it is returned by a “borrower”? I can’t imagine that a person who knows he’s only using it for a short period of time is going to feel compelled to actually take care of it. Somebody threw up in the back seat? So what – it’s not my car anyway. Somebody “lost” their stash of pot in the trunk? So what – it’s not my car anyway. If I “borrow” a car for a month, it is technically a used car when I return it; is it then put back in the pool of cars available to borrow after I return it? Is there a second pricing tier if you agree to borrow cars that aren’t brand new?

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I’ve been a car guy all of my life. And, just in the last few years, the industry has really ruined it for me. Everything from boring vehicles (at least among those that mere mortals can afford), all automatic transmissions, driver assistance technology, sale of personal information to third parties and now subscriptions – which I predict will eventually be forced on us in one way or the other because corporate business plans will call for it. I think the time has come for me to admit the truth to myself: I don’t care about (new) cars anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      Amen to everything you said. But to that list, I’d add boring colors. When you look at any parking lot, it’s a sea of silver, black and white. And if you want something besides a black interior (which I really don’t), good luck with that! Has anyone ever noticed how the “beauty” shots taken for new car ads almost always feature a tan/beige interior, but when you go to look at the car, they’re nowhere to be found?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a good thing you posted a public comment announcing how much you don’t care, then. We were starting to wonder how you really felt.

  • avatar

    Maybe GM can do an Obamacare version, where skilled and prudent drivers with perfect credit histories and living in low accident parts of the country are forced to accept “Cadillac” subscription prices that allow them to use a bare-bones menu of cars consisting of Sonics and Trax as a means of funding subsidies for accident prone drivers with poor credit histories and living in bad neighborhoods, who can then enjoy “Chevrolet” level subscription prices and access to Z-28 Camaros, ZR1 Corvettes, Escalades, twin-turbo CT-6s, etc. Why should social justice be limited to only medical care, education, and employment?

  • avatar

    OK, moving along from those strong opening 2 posts….

    The more I think about it the less I’m sold on these subscription services. Especially for GM. People’s car needs don’t change very frequently, and when they do it’s very temporary (i.e. an Ikea run or family coming to town). GM doesn’t have compelling enough lineups that anyone is getting any heartburn choosing between their offerings.

    I think a possibly more viable system would be a regular lease with “access” to higher end cars. So you do a 36 month Malibu lease, and for another $2000 or so you can swap it for a Corvette or Sierra Denali for like 3 months out of the lease. Just to break up the monotony and whet one’s beak. But the prospect of being able to switch between an Equinox/Cruze/Impala…. just not very exciting. Same story with pretty much any mainstream brand.

Read all comments

Recent Comments

  • Pfram: I helped a friend of mine go over the left over mastic with house paint on a roller. It looked surprisingly...
  • Pfram: My father’s ’75 had manual steering, 3-on-the-tree and manual brakes. The brakes were fine, but...
  • Pfram: Peggy drove an 1100 or 1204 on probably the second season of Mannix; she had driven a 1000 in the first...
  • Pfram: Just about every car I remember from that era went through suspension parts, including my father’s...
  • Art Vandelay: So every executive at every oil company is a Republican? I find that a bit difficult to believe.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber