The sharing economy, Cadillac style

cadillac ad
Screen capture Hmm, do I want a convertible or a hard top?

Over the years TreeHugger has had great hopes for the sharing economy, for the idea that you don’t really need to own everything but just need access to it when you need it. The great hope was that it would help young people without a lot of money.

Alas, it hasn’t worked out that way. The people who benefit the most from sharing are those who can afford to share private jets, and now Cadillacs, which is the first major car company to turn from being just a manufacturer to being what we call a Product Service System. Collin defined it:

... the product service system (or PSS): one of TreeHugger's favorite concepts shrouded by one of the clunkiest names. For anyone who'd like a quick refresher, a PSS replaces a product with a service; instead of paying for the product itself (and whatever maintenance and upkeep it requires), you pay to use the product for a bit, and then give it back. Think of it this way: a PSS is often an answer to the question, "Hey, do you really need to own one of those?"

That's not something that car companies usually want to you ask, which is why this program is so surprising.

It’s actually quite interesting; you pay $1500 a month and get to take your choice of car for as long as you need i; a big SUV for the trip to the ski club, a sporty convertible for a run to the beach. Why own one type of car (and watch it depreciate in your driveway) when you can get the latest whenever you want it, and not worry about service, insurance and other running costs.

It’s not like a Zip car membership, where you get a car when you need it; you are supposed to always have a car. The Verge describes it:

Vehicles will be delivered to your preferred location by white-glove concierge service, and Cadillac says you can swap out vehicles as often as you like, in case you want a coupe for a weekend trip. Drivers must keep a car at all times, but because there’s no contract commitment, it’s possible to cancel the service for a month and start it up again at a later time. There are no mileage restrictions either, although Cadillac told The Verge in an email that driving for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft is not allowed.

cadillac apCadillac app/Screen capture

It would be glorious if all the car companies did this, switching from a a sales to a service mode where you can get. say, a tiny Fiat 500 for zipping to the office, switch out for a minivan for the haul to IKEA or a jeep for the weekend. I suspect that there are many people who would prefer this kind of deal to traditional car ownership. Who knows, now that we are in the new age of trickle-down economics, the concept might trickle down to the rest of us.

Tags: Product Service Systems


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