Within three months of taking the corner office at Cadillac, Johann de Nysschen announced plans to move the brand's longtime headquarters from Detroit to New York.
Why did he do it? De Nysschen had been hired to reinvent General Motors' struggling luxury brand, and to achieve that goal, he wanted to put Cadillac smack in the middle of the city that he called "the epicenter of sophisticated living".
Put another way, de Nysschen wanted to make Cadillac elite, so he took it to where the elites live.
Yesterday, de Nysschen announced a new program that could boost Cadillac's profile even further. It's called BOOK. (It's so upscale, it's all uppercase.)
These are exciting times in the auto industry. Car companies around the globe are working night and day to replace gasoline engines with battery packs and to develop software that can handle driving duties.
But many in the field are predicting a bigger shift--one that could ruin conventional automakers and put upstart start-ups on top. That shift is away from individual car ownership and toward car-sharing and ride-sharing.
Smart automakers are already trying to gain a foothold in those areas. For example, Toyota has invested in ride-sharing behemoth Uber, while General Motors has done the same with Lyft. GM has also created its own car-sharing service called Maven, which allows users to borrow vehicles from a GM-owned fleet for errands and other short trips.
That's where BOOK comes in.
What is BOOK?
At heart, BOOK is a car-sharing service, but it's far tonier than Maven, RelayRides, or their competitors. With BOOK, users are given a Cadillac to use as they please, for as long as they please.
Users can pick from a range of vehicles to suit their needs: a sleek sedan for a weekend roadtrip, a spacious SUV for a jaunt to an antique mall, and so on. The service will launch with a fleet that includes Platinum-trim Cadillacs like the XT5, CT6, Escalade, and V Series.
BOOK users request those vehicles via a mobile app. And since this is Cadillac we're talking about, the cars arrive in style. According to the automaker, "The vehicles will be delivered via white-glove concierge to members’ requested locations and exchanged at their leisure or as their needs change."
Of course, this kind of service ain't cheap. Using BOOK runs a tidy $1,500 per month, which covers unlimited use of the car, as well as registration, taxes, insurance premiums, and maintenance. However, you'll still have to fill up the tank, and you'll need to find a place to park the vehicle. If you're in an urban area--as many BOOK users are likely to be--parking could easily add $500 or more per month. That's especially true in New York City, where BOOK will first launch.
Will BOOK help put Cadillac on equal footing with leading luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz? Will it lay the foundation for a solid future, giving Cadillac a leg-up in the evolving sphere called "mobility"?
We have no idea, but if you're ready to sign up, check out the promo video above, then take a spin over to BOOKByCadillac.com.