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Is this the future of executive car travel?

Is this the future of executive car travel?

With advances in autonomous driving, ride-hailing and car-sharing the days of the traditional car ownership model are numbered.

Tesla, Uber and Zipcar are just a few of those that are contributing to this changing landscape in a variety of ways. Elon Musk, CEO of the former, has said that all cars will be fully-autonomous in the next 20 years and those that aren’t will have negative value: “It will be like owning a horse. You are really owning it for sentimental reasons.”

Meanwhile Uber and Zipcar have meant that with just a simple mobile phone app, getting a taxi or renting a car is now cheaper and easier than ever before.

And so traditional car manufacturers now have to think about new directions and strategies to ensure they don’t go down in the history books alongside Kodak and Nokia.

One car manufacturer that plans to adapt to this changing environment is General Motors – more specifically it’s luxury brand, Cadillac.

BOOK by Cadillac is a subscription service that provides a flexible alternative to owning a car. Drivers can use different cars at different times without any concerns about insurance, tax, maintenance or mileage – furthermore it is commitment-free.

This means; no more shopping around for the best insurance quote (something money comparison sites should consider), no more worries about remembering to pay road tax, no more unexpected costs associated with ‘wear and tear’ – like new tyres or brake discs – and no more concerns about devaluing your vehicle or incurring fines (for those that lease) through high mileage. 

Instead, BOOK’s offering means that the latest top of the line Cadillacs can be requested with a simple mobile app, they are then delivered by a concierge and can be exchanged at any time – up to 18 times a year. This means an individual can go from a saloon (CT6) to an SUV (Escalade), or even something a bit sportier from the V-Series range, without any hassle.

“You can essential pick a vehicle that suits your needs for a month, or a week. And it’s all done through a great concierge team that arranges the pick-up, the swap,” says BOOK member Ashley Sandall, Director of the fashion non-profit CFDA. “Feeling taken care of, feeling like you matter leads to luxury.”

Given the luxury nature of the vehicles, and the unlimited use, you would think such a subscription would be extortionate. But Cadillac is currently quoting $1,500 a month (equivalent to approximately £1,200). This is half the price of renting an Audi A3 with Zipcar every day for 28 days in London (£2,160).

Alternatively, BMW (in partnership with Sixt) is currently offering a car-sharing scheme across North East London called DriveNow which is very similar to the city’s ‘Boris Bikes’ – you borrow them, use them and then, the best bit, you can leave it anywhere (well, any public parking space).

Nevertheless, DriveNow and Zipcar are both designed for quick, short-term rentals and don’t target the executive market based on the models offered (BMW’s DriveNow only includes the i3, 1 Series and MINI). Whereas Cadillac’s new offering is more suited for business leaders - those that might want something smart during the week to attend meetings in, and then something larger on the weekends to fit the whole family.

In addition to this, the subscription is month-to-month and free to cancel, which means there are no commitments. So, if a car isn’t needed all year, the cost isn’t there, or if circumstances change, there are no financial worries about paying-off an expensive top-of-the-line vehicle.

The company is currently trialling BOOK in the New York Metropolitan area at present. But, Cadillac says: “We anticipate expanding our service into other markets in the future.”

Therefore, if this luxury subscription service is as good as it sounds, the likelihood is that it won’t be long before the same model is replicated in other cities across the globe – and possibly, by other manufacturers.

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