There’s no doubt that the connected car revolution is here and it’s here to stay. Starting in February, Cadillac is beta testing a select service that makes us reconsider the idea of owning a car. The new service – named BOOK by Cadillac – is a luxurious renting service that threatens traditional car ownership models.
The luxury brand will soon put a fleet of sedans, SUVs, and coupes into the hands of Millennials and other drivers who have so far resisted the costs and troubles that come with buying a vehicle. A few select New York City drivers will be allowed to rent a Cadillac for just $1,500 per month (sign up now!).
What Cadillac is proposing is not a leasing service, which allows you to rent a car for a multi-year term. Nor is it quite like the car rentals we’re used to, given that you don’t return the vehicle after a few days of use. It’s not car-sharing, since you don’t have restrictive mileage limits and you don’t pay by the hour. Instead, BOOK by Cadillac is a brand new form of car ownership that doesn’t require drivers to own a car.
If the test proves successful, Cadillac may be the first of many luxury brands that could implement this style of business. Meanwhile, the BOOK by Cadillac is a service the company wants to expand to other cities. The process of renting a luxury car is simple and headache-free.
App-based Rental Service
Cadillac wants to make it easy for you to be tempted to try out their luxurious renting service. You just download their app and select the model you want to drive for the next month. Then, a concierge delivers the car to your doorstep.
Should you have any problems on the road, Cadillac allows you to swap out the car at any time. However, the company has established a limit; you can only swap your car 18 times per year.
The carmaker hopes to expand BOOK by Cadillac from New York across the country. Programs like this could bring a significant change in the ways we travel. In theory, the fledgling program promises an intriguing future: What if you lived in New York but had to travel for a business trip to Los Angeles? You might order an Escalade for the drive to the airport and drop off the vehicle at a Cadillac garage. Then, once you land in L.A., pick up the same model for your weekend on the West Coast.
Who is the target market? You might be picturing someone who chooses the sporty CTS-V for their day to day drives, then switches to the larger XT5 if they want to take a few friends on a vacation. In this scenario, flexibility is more important than expense, right? It’s up to you to decide if such a rental service sounds at all elitist.
Luxury Brands on Demand
Given that a typical rental car starts at around $400, the proposal of $1,500 per month doesn’t sound tempting. However, some drivers will pay much more than $400 in big city like New York City or San Francisco, so there’s a certain appeal to putting a bit more cash on the table for a ride in style.
BOOK by Cadillac is not the only program of this kind out there. A similar one, Audi on Demand, is encouraging drivers to take up these luxurious renting offers. Being able to use an app on your phone to rent a car, being able to switch to a different car on a whim, and paying extra for a white-glove concierge service – all of these have made it viable enough for Cadillac to come up with their own platform.
According to Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac chief marketing officer, “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.”
Plans for a Driverless Future
The party doesn’t end here: Cadillac hopes to incorporate driverless cars in their on-demand fleet. For now, someone has to deliver that vehicle to you, but not far into the future, the car will drive itself. Today, no carmaker can send you an autonomous car, but Tesla is pretty close. Its Model S can already back out of the garage on its own with just a click.
Even though it sounds futuristic, summoning a driverless car could soon become a commonality, no different than jumping in a curbside taxi. Cadillac’s fleet of cars will operate like any other taxi service, meeting the driver at a specified address and letting them jump in. Afterwards, you might swap the city car for an SUV, pack up your luggage, and head to the cabin for the weekend.
Even though the app isn’t available to test yet, a lot of drivers seem to be enticed by the idea of a driving experience that’s less headache inducing than owning a car. Cadillac has yet to uncover all the details about its app, but one imagines the customers will have to set up a schedule for when and where they want the car to be delivered.
Would you use it? Imagine you’re in NYC for a month and you need to get to meetings and different locations all day long. It would cost you around $20 per taxi ride or Uber, so would you opt for Cadillac’s offer instead? Many would argue that getting a ride is much easier than driving your own car (rental or not) in these big cities, but you must also consider the costs.
Cadillac wants you to have your own car available at the curb, waiting to go. But there are some questions the luxury brand still needs to answer about the BOOK service. It says you can switch the car up to 18 times per year, but is there a limit for a month? If you can cancel at any time, wouldn’t drivers feel encouraged to abuse the privilege?
Also, the beta test is supposed to help the company will determine how long it takes to deliver a car. Given that it’s New York we’re talking about, the delivery won’t be immediate. And what about the days with high demand? It seems that you could be waiting a few hours for a swap, in which case many people would prefer just taking a taxi.
BOOK by Cadillac: Latest Models
Signing up for the service means you will be allowed to take the V Series for a superb performance on the winding roads, or enjoy the Escalade during a back-mountain winter ski trip. But you wouldn’t have to wait years before you could buy a new car – you can experience both in the same week. Alternatively, the selected drivers could keep an SUV for cold February and switch to a performance sedan as soon as spring sets in.
Having the vehicle picked up and delivered right to your doorstep isn’t even the best part of this deal. Seeing that Cadillac promises to handle the insurance, maintenance, and detailing of the vehicle, members are free to trade the hassle of traditional vehicle ownership for the flexibility and freedom of a rental system.
For now, the test is restricted to the metro area of New York City, with hopes of expansion. Members will be able to rent have the 2017 Platinum Level Trim Cadillacs, including the V Series, CT6, XT5, and Escalade. While BOOK by Cadillac is definitely more expensive than your ordinary lease plus insurance, it counterbalances with the added flexibility to pick whatever vehicle feels right for the moment.
Taxes, registration, maintenance, insurance, and costs are included in the $1,500 monthly rate. Cadillac doesn’t want to enforce mileage restrictions, but you should think twice before driving across the United States. Not even Cadillac can help you get a swap or a repair in the middle of Utah. But the greatest thing about the BOOK by Cadillac service may still be on the horizon: If it goes nationwide, drivers may never have to wait in line at the rental car office again.
Cadillac is one of the leading luxury auto brands in the industry ever since its launch in 1902. Today Cadillac is expanding globally, offering an expanding product portfolio featuring distinctive technology and design. You can learn more information on Cadillac by accessing its website. Check out images and videos of its fleet at media.cadillac.com.