By on November 20, 2019

If you read our coverage of Book by Cadillac, you’ll recall it was a minor financial disaster that had to be shut down in 2018. Cadillac was trying to develop a subscription model, following the lead of other premium manufacturers attempting to usher in a new age of consumerism, sans ownership. But the public didn’t take the bait.

We’ve had niggles about subscription-based sales models for years, whether it be for something hidden in your digital dashboard or affixed to an entire automobile. While they make sense for some services, we couldn’t make the numbers work for cars. It’s almost always the most expensive way to get into any given automobile. However, you do get a few nice perks as a consolation — things like insurance, registration, and maintenance — since you’re effectively renting the car. In the case of Cadillac, Book also allowed you to swap vehicles via a concierge service that would deliver the swapped vehicle pretty much anywhere you wanted — offering bottle water, umbrellas, and a positive attitude upon arrival.

Those extravagances may have been justifiable for those with money to burn, but the general populace wasn’t there to help General Motors shoulder the burden. The pilot program ended roughly a year ago. Yet GM’s chief marketing officer, Deborah Wahl, said Book would return in 2020, bigger and better than ever.  (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2019

Porsche’s app-based subscription service is creeping into to four new cities in the United States and Canada. While technically still a pilot program designed to probe the market’s willingness, the expansion would indicate it’s one the automaker has some level of faith in.

We, however, are not among the true believers. Despite the added convenience of incorporating maintenance and insurance into one’s regular car payment, subscription services have not proven themselves to be an affordable way to own a car. In fact, they’re typically the most expensive way to procure a ride. But that doesn’t guarantee they won’t eventually catch on or make nameplates like Porsche oodles of cash, especially as the brand intends on making the service more costly.  (Read More…)

By on August 20, 2019

It’s no secret that Volvo dealers aren’t keen on the factory subscription plan. Last December, the California New Car Dealers Association even asked the manufacturer to end Care By Volvo on the grounds that it was taking business away from storefronts. The automaker responded by saying the service had proven popular with consumers, attracting new customers to the brand while reassuring dealers that version 2.0 of the subscription plan had been approved by the Volvo Retailer Advisory Board and would give shops more to do.

Rather than take the wait-and-see approach, the California New Car Dealers Association petitioned the state’s New Motor Vehicle Board. Last week, the group unanimously voted to direct the state’s DMV to investigate Care by Volvo and four claims that the service violates provisions of the California vehicle code — potentially leading to disciplinary actions.  (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2019

As automakers connect more vehicles to the internet and install app-based shops into the dashboard, we’ve become increasingly worried with in-car marketing annoyances and the prospect of companies hiding content behind paywalls. Our concerns turned out to be valid.

BMW has decided that it will charge customers an annual subscription fee if they want to utilize CarPlay in its latest models. Odd, considering most other automakers have been trying to get the platform inside their cars as standard equipment. However we’re betting that changes unless BMW gets a healthy does of criticism.  (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2019

Volvo is taking a very unique approach to its advertising for the Super Bowl this year. Rather than simply have the network air its commercials during the breaks, it has decided to compete with the game directly for viewership.

Called “The Longest Drive,” the automaker’s smartphone game is reminiscent of dealer and radio contests where people have to keep their hands on the car to win it. The difference here is that Volvo is concerned with your eyes. Participants will compete to log the most amount of time looking at stock footage of the Volvo S60 in the hopes of claiming one as a prize.

Mercedes-Benz tried something similar last year with its digitized “Last Fan Standing” competition. In that contest, people were asked to keep their finger on a Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe as the company monitored their cell phone, waiting for them to make a mistake. Unfortunately, mistakes were made long before the contest began.  (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2019

General Motors is readying another automotive subscription service after canceling “Book by Cadillac,” which was deemed too costly to keep operational, several months ago. However, whether that was due entirely to its own failures or related to the fact that the company is aggressively hunting for capital through its restructuring program is up for debate.

There were grumblings that the program’s complete lack of dealer involvement was a good way for Cadillac maximize profits (without sharing them). But, with it failing, it was also an excellent way to incur unnecessary costs. As a result, the brand intends to make its expansive dealer network an integral part of the fast-approaching “Book 2.o.”  (Read More…)

By on November 5, 2018

Cadillac recently made the choice to suspend its vehicle subscription service, claiming the operation hit some costly roadblocks. That’s been our beef with most subscription programs as well, only on the consumer side of the coin. Customers typically end up paying significantly more for access to a fleet of vehicles that, individually, would have been much cheaper to simply buy or lease. Still, the intended draw isn’t saving money, it’s convenience — most subscription services allow customers to swap between select models on the fly, baking in both insurance and maintenance fees.

While these subscription services have been limited to premium nameplates thus far, Toyota wants to try its hand and see how things play out for a mainstream manufacturer. (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2018

The service doesn’t receive as much press as the new-car subscription services offered by a growing list of premium automakers, but Lincoln’s pilot project did carry many of the same aspirations. It just didn’t carry new cars.

Launched in California earlier this year, Lincoln’s subscription service offers users a range of older, contemporary models — insured, with maintenance covered — for a monthly fee that, depending on where you live, could secure a decent one-bedroom rental apartment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ford’s luxury division says demand for the service isn’t exactly red hot. (Read More…)

By on September 14, 2018


Having already introduced a subscription service for its vehicles, Porsche decided to continue experimenting with alternatives to traditional car ownership. The luxury brand plans to launch two pilot programs on both U.S. coasts (condolences to America’s Heartland) aimed at encouraging drivers to get behind the wheel of a Porsche for brief periods of time.

The first, overseen by Porsche Cars North America, will test exclusively within the Atlanta area, near Porsche’s North American headquarters. Called Porsche Drive, the pilot program launched a few days ago and offers hourly to weekly rentals of new Porsche cars and SUVs. Meanwhile, a second joint venture with peer-to-peer car rental company Turo will service San Francisco and Los Angeles starting next month. That endeavor focuses on the sharing of already purchased (new and vintage) Porsche vehicles by owners inclined to share them. (Read More…)

By on September 9, 2018

General Motors Renaissance Center

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.  (Read More…)

By on July 31, 2018

BMW is trimming some of the fat off its car subscription program after the media collectively realized that paying twice what you would on an average lease didn’t constitute a good deal. Frankly, most car subscription services that exist right now are an incredibly poor value. Bavarian Motor Works was the rule, not the exception.

However, most of these programs are in their infancy and cater to wealthier individuals who get a kick out pestering automakers to submit to their whims by occasionally delivering a new vehicle. It was presumed that those lofty fees would come down as competition ramped up and mainstream automakers entered the fray. That, along with some public criticism of the subscription model, seems to be helping push automakers away from astronomical prices.

That’s not to say the German manufacturer is suddenly offering a bargain alternative to leasing. But if you love the idea of having a car for every occasion and don’t want to deal with insurance agents, Access by BMW has become more affordable.  (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2018

2016 BMW X6, Image: BMW

Automakers are trying everything under the sun to turn a larger profit these days. Building and selling cars is no longer enough. Manufacturers now offer data plans, rental services, lifestyle products, and much more. One of the newest additions to their collective portfolio is the subscription plan — which yields customers a vehicle, insurance, maintenance, and other perks for a monthly fee.

However, as the concept is preparing to enter the mainstream market, the value of such programs have been called into question. While subscription services look like one-stop shopping, often providing users with the ability to swap models throughout the year, their cost effectiveness comes into doubt when one examines the bottom line. We’ve been skeptical for a while but Edmunds recently crunched the numbers to find out for sure.  (Read More…)

By on November 30, 2017

Volvo Cars is rolling out a subscription service that allows access to vehicles for a monthly fee. It’s a growing trend among luxury brands. Book by Cadillac is the first service to spring to mind but brands like Porsche and Ford have introduced regional pilot programs offering roughly the same thing. Volvo’s subscription service is not a trial run, however. It’s the full enchilada.

For $600 a month, Care by Volvo is offering access to its new XC40 — the new compact SUV that just started production in Belgium this month. Here’s how it works: Volvo customers choose a car online and make a monthly payment that covers insurance, service, and maintenance. The subscription last 24 months but, during that time, customers will be given the opportunity to change cars and sign up for a new 24-month subscription as early as a year into the existing agreement.

It’s an interesting alternative to leasing and a lot of outlets have praised the service for being so affordable, especially compared to Cadillac’s monthly subscription fee of $1,500. But the services aren’t directly comparable. Fist of all, General Motors allows customers to swap vehicles month to month. Secondly, those models are valeted to you and could have an MSRP in excess of $86,000.  (Read More…)

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