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Thinking Boldly
GM Prepares For A Future In Which Americans Don’t Own Cars
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  • D4x

    “…is considering becoming a full-time member when it is time for a new vehicle. For $1,500 a month…” Must need a designer drug in the water to be able to read that without blinking.

    • FriendlyGoat

      It’s designed for the Cadillac class—–like a lot of businesses increasingly now are. Why not? That (like Willie Sutton’s bank robbery targets) is where one might expect to find more and more of the money.

    • Proverbs1618

      Yeah, $1500/month price point seems to be a bit on the high side.

      • D4x

        One would think so, even when you work for Google: “…One newspaper reports that a Silicon Valley engineer pays $1,400 a month just to live in a closet. He’s squeezing his wallet for the privilege of having a “private room” in a house where five adults live in bunk beds in a single bedroom. Another media outlet reported that a Google engineer moved into a “128-square-foot truck—in the company’s parking lot” because the cost of living in a real house was just too much. …”
        Seemed like a good idea to read something else…not today…

        • Proverbs1618

          My company offered me some time back an opportunity to move to SF and work in a West Coast office. Although I went to school there and know the area, it was an easy decision to say no. Costs of everything + living in Communist Republic of California = thanks but no thanks… Now, if they wanted to open an office in Florida…. Then we’d be in business. 🙂

    • Andrew Allison

      I wonder how many UberSelect, let alone UberX, rides a month $1,500 would buy?

      • Kevin

        Of course Uber is losing money hand over fist, but even at double their current prices that’s a lot of rides. (But not four hour trips upstate…)

      • D4x

        I question why we are even discussing this, so soon after the detailed saga on income inequality. Even at $15/hour, the concept of self-driving cars and a deal at $1500/month is so ‘let them eat reindeer carpaccio with lingonberries’ * my nod to why the Nordic nations are so happy.

        Finished Follett. Vol. 3 should have a warning label on that addendum in 2008 Chicago. Otherwise, a good enough read, even with so much sex, rock n roll, and drugs. TY!

        • Andrew Allison

          Glad you enjoyed Follett! GM, as it has so often failed to do (Volt anyone?), has failed to grasp the market opportunity. The market is those who ride buses, not those who use Uber. I used the Uber analogy because the clearly overpaid fashion executive was the subject. Just when was the last time GM had a good idea? 1953 perhaps?

  • Angel Martin

    Owning and operating a vehicle in some of these wealthy urban enclaves has become so expensive that paying $1500/month for an occasional car rental may make sense.

    In Manhattan Upper East, for covered 24 hour access parking you can easily pay $500-1000 per month or more.,12

    However, if this is the future of the US auto industry, car sharing etc. will not support anywhere near 18 million auto sales per year. Which says to me that most of the current auto producers that depend on the US market will be out of business.

  • WigWag

    The subscription model is a great idea for cars; it would be even better for medicine. Subscription-based primary care would dramatically lower costs by disintermediating health insurance companies just as the GM model touted here disintermediates auto dealers. The model exists in medicine already; sometimes its called “concierge medicine for all.” Instead of having primary care paid by insurance companies, patients would pay a monthly fee ($100 per month sounds about right) to participate in a physician’s practice. Most primary care delivery would be covered though the patient’s insurance plan would have to pay for routine blood tests, X-rays, etc. Physicians could limit their practice to 750-1000 patients which is a third to half of the average patient roll most primary care physicians have now. Smaller patient rolls mean shorter wait times for appointments and more time for physicians to spend with patients. The subscription model would insure that primary care physicians make about the same amount that they make now without the hassle of dealing with insurance companies. The prescription fees paid by patients to physicians could be reimbursed or paid directly to physicians by the patient’s employer.

    Under this scenario, patients would still use insurance for what insurance was intended for; true, unanticipated emergencies. To make this system work, we either need more primary care physicians or we need to be more liberal about letting nurse practitioners deliver primary care. The medical cartel fights both ideas tooth and nail.

    If you think a subscription based (nor netflix-like) system is good for cars, you should see what it could do for medicine. Implemented correctly, it could dramatically lower the obscene amount of money that our country spends on healthcare.

    • Boritz

      My PCP went concierge. He harassed all of his patients for months to sign up for $3,600 per year and that is just for the privilege of being able to make an appointment with him. You would still have to pay for any services rendered on a fee-for-service basis.

      • WigWag

        Hi Boritz. Your situation, while common, is not the way this has to work. Concierge physicians who charge outrageous fees while still expecting insurance reimbursement are charlatans working hard to rip off their patients. I am presuming and hoping you didn’t fall for it.

        But there are other, better subscription models for medicine. For the price of a typical consumer’s monthly cable bill it is possible for patients to become their physician’s clients.

        Think about it; a patient roll of a mere 750 provides an income to a primary care provider of $900 thousand per year if each patient pays a subscription fee of $100 per month.

        Even taking all reasonable expenses into account (rent, staff, insurance, etc) this still leaves plenty of money for the physicians take home pay especially because under this system the physician needs fewer staff to deal with the insurance bureaucracy. There is absolutely no need for any patient care under this system to be charged to insurance outside of routine tests and medications.

        Many people have had your unfortunate experience with their doctors badgering them to participate as concierge patients. But that doesn’t mean subscription based medicine needs to work that way, it only means that too many doctors are greedy SOBs.

        To really make the system work, what’s needed is more primary care doctors (or nurse practitioners or physician assistants). If primary care providers are going to enjoy patient rolls of 750 patients instead of 3,000 patients we will need many more providers.

        Merely by having more providers we will have competition that will drive subscription prices down. One can easily envision a nurse practitioner charging lets say $75 per month per patient while an M.D. might charge a subscription fee of $100 or $125 per month per patient. Those wanting the provider with more education would pay a little more; those happy with a provider without an M.D. degree would pay a little less.

        If the topic interests you at all, let me suggest that you read the articles I linked to; you might find them interesting.

        What does any of this have to do with the topic of this post? It’s not really about the cars, it’s about the subscription model that can improve the consumer experience in so many areas including healthcare.

  • Jim__L

    Why is everyone so hot to strip Americans of our major assets and stuff us, carless, into high-density apartments?

    Obviously, because the rent-seeking class needs clients to suck rent from.

    Anything that degrades us from an ownership society is a truly horrible idea. Far better to take cars off the streets by telecommuting, and developing distributed workspaces so no one has to commute to a city center anymore.

  • TheRandomTexan

    Jeez, talk about fools and their money. “It was great to have your pick of the vehicle best suited for what you’re doing,” she said. When I need a van or an SUV, I just go rent one for the weekend, and leave my (paid-for) roadster in the garage. Lots cheaper than a $1500/month “subscription.” You’d think these high rollers would pop for spreadsheet and 30 minutes to run the numbers, but apparently not.

    And what kind of slow ponies are running the auto makers? They’re still pushing out millions of new cars onto their dealers, pretty much continuously, as though Mr and Mrs America were buying a new Chevy every 2 or 3 years. When I traded out my 10-year-old BMW for a later model, TEN YEARS AGO, I knew that business model was a stinker.

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