March 20, 2017

GM Tries a Subscription Plan for Cadillacs—a Netflix for Cars at $1,500 a Month.

After participating free of charge in a three-month pilot of General Motors Co.’s new Book by Cadillac subscription plan, Ms. Sandall said she is considering becoming a full-time member when it is time for a new vehicle. For $1,500 a month, the program covers ownership costs and lets members trade in and out of Cadillac’s 10 models up to 18 times a year.

The effort is the latest experiment by a car company to test whether people are willing to treat personal transportation like a Netflix account, where temporary, on-demand access outweighs the benefits of ownership.

GM has been among the industry’s chief tinkerers with the ownership model, anticipating that the century-old arrangement of consumers buying, insuring and repairing their own vehicles eventually will lose favor. In early 2016, it formed a car-sharing company called Maven and around the same time invested $500 million into ride-hailing service Lyft Inc., Uber Technologies Inc.’s main rival.

That’s pricey, but semi-autonomous cars which deliver themselves as needed should drive down costs to consumers.