Ford’s New Plan If You Miss Payments

Ford Global Technologies has recently applied for a patent that would allow them to remotely repossess vehicles, including autonomous ones, if the owner is delinquent on payments. The system was detailed in a 14-page application which was formally published by the United States Patent Office on February 23rd, 2023.

The patent outlines how Ford could disable features such as air conditioning, cruise control and the radio if auto owners are late with payments; or even worse – lock out owners from their cars completely. Furthermore, the stereo may be programmed to “emit an incessant and unpleasant sound every time the owner is present in the vehicle” according to the patent filing.

Ford could also restrict a vehicle’s movements to only certain pre-determined locations such as dropping off children at school or going to buy groceries if enough payments are missed. A “repossession computer” can be installed on future cars to enable Ford take control of vehicles, and unlock access when an acknowledgment of payment is received within a reasonable period of time. Should there be more missed payments and no acknowledgements received, Ford could remotely order its self-driving cars to drive themselves to a repo lot or any place where a tow truck can have easy access to it.

Despite applying for this patent, Ford has released an official statement claiming they have “no plans to deploy this” yet. Spokesperson Wes Sherwood clarified that submitting patents on new inventions is just part of their normal business routine but that doesn’t necessarily indicate new business or product plans.

This news comes shortly after data from Cox Automotive revealed that auto borrowers who are at least 60 days late increased by 20.4% compared to a year ago while loan defaults increased by 33.5%. The severe delinquency rate skyrocketed to its highest level since 2006 while car repossessions jumped 11% compared to last year, leaving some speculation that this patent could lead into action soon due to financial strains felt across many industries due to COVID-19 pandemic repercussions. In light of all this, Ford CEO Jim Farley said they need “to change [their] cost profile” and not simply make cuts without redesigning their work for it all “to be sustainable”.


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