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FILE - In this July 14, 2015, file photo, employee Efren Martin II inspects a Cadillac Escalade as it nears the final process of assembly at the General Motors plant in Arlington, Texas. General Motors reports quarterly financial results on Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

GM is trying to treat car ownership like Netflix. But is it actually working?


Would you treat your car like a Netflix subscription?

General Motors is banking on it. It announced its "Book by Cadillac" program in January, and so far, The Wall Street Journal reports, demand is higher than it can actually handle.

The program lets you swap between 10 different Cadillac models up to 18 times a year through a GM-made app. It costs $1,500 a month, compared to the average monthly car payment of $503, per CNBC. And you don't have to jump through the normal hoops of car-buying.

It was great to have your pick of the vehicle best suited for what you're doing.
Ashley Sandall, Book by Cadillac user

Nearly 5,000 people have signed up for the program, more than GM can actually support. 

This may seem similar to car-sharing services like Zipcar and Clutch Technologies, which can cost as little as $950 a month, but GM hopes it can beat the competition with luxury appeal. As of now, it's only offered in and around New York City.

The burning question, of course, is, do enough people want this that GM can actually make money? Jury's out. 24/7 Wall Street deemed the program a "major failure." But other reviews were widely positive.

"I'm not sure how big the demand really is," said Ludwig Willisch, the CEO of BMW's North America division. He said BMW considered a similar service but opted against it. 

Hyundai has a similar program, but only for electric cars and only in California. 

Subscriptions in general are a good business model.
Karl Brauer, Kelley Blue Book

But some experts argue the model is more sustainable than it might seem. 

Cadillac marketing chief Uwe Ellinghaus said he foresaw a "decent profit" as the program grows. It will likely expand to Los Angeles and other major cities soon. 

Would you ever try out Book by Cadillac?

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