Future Ford cars may repossess themselves if you miss a payment and drive itself back to a repo agency KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt


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Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Future Ford cars may repossess themselves if you miss a payment and drive itself back to a repo agency

Future Ford cars may repossess themselves if you miss a payment and drive itself back to a repo agency.

Ford is not taking any chances with owners missing car payments - the company is working on a system that prompts the vehicle to repossess itself. 

A newly awarded patent describes a car self-driving back to the showroom or a scrapyard if the owner does not answer messages about their delinquent account. The patent was submitted to the United States Patent Office in August 2021 and awarded to Ford on February 23.

It describes Ford attempting a non-intrusive method by notifying the owner of their delinquent account by sending a message to the car or a smartphone.

If these messages are ignored, Ford will turn up the heat by disabling features like music and air conditioning, hoping the owner will be uncomfortable and make payments. 

The next step is to play annoying sounds, like chiming or buzzing, inside the car when the driver sits at the wheel, which will play until the vehicle is turned off.

The next step in Ford's master plan would be limiting access to the car on certain days or times.

The patent also notes the system could render the car unusable on weekends but would allow the driver to commute to work in an effort not to hinder the individual's ability to make payments.

And the last step is to have the vehicle repossess itself. President of International Recovery Systems Jeremy Cross told NBC in December: 'Over the last two years, vehicle prices were inflated because there was no new car supply, people were still buying like crazy because they had a lot of stay-at-home cash, they had inflated credit scores, so it was like a recipe for disaster.'

The same report states that repossession fell at the start of COVID when Americans received stimulus checks and money from more empathetic lenders. 

This all changed toward the end of 2022 - people started to drown in debt, and many were behind in car payments.

NBC reported that the average monthly payment for a new car is up 26 percent since 2019 to $718 a month.

And nearly one in six new car buyers is spending more than $1,000 a month on vehicles. 

Ivan Drury, director of insights at car buying website Edmunds, told NBC: ''These repossessions are occurring on people who could afford that $500 or $600 a month payment two years ago, but now everything else in their life is more expensive. Ford has filed a patent for theoretical tech that would, among other things, allow its vehicles to repossess themselves if a driver falls behind on car payments. In Ford’s version of the future, delinquent customers’ cars could drive themselves back to a dealership (or to an impound lot or even a scrap yard) if the owner fails to pay up in time. Unfortunately, this is not joke.

In the automaker’s dystopian, proposed and patented version of reality, a couple skipped car payments would trigger a cycle of in-car consequences—or a “multi-step repossession procedure,” as it’s called in the document. First, an owner behind on their loan would get a notice of delinquency, sent via their infotainment system screen. If the driver fails to respond to that notice, there would be a second one. Then, your Ford personal vehicle would slowly transform into a version of hell.

The company proposes varied early punishments for delinquent car owners—for instance, a vehicle that could disable its own air conditioning, automated key, GPS, or music system. Another idea Ford floats in the patent filing is “activating an audio component in the vehicle... to emit an incessant and unpleasant sound every time the owner is present in the vehicle.” Which seems incredibly unsafe!

If the horrible noise and/or minimized functionality and comfort doesn’t entice a car owner to cough up the money, the repo process would then progress to locking a driver out of their vehicle. Ford notes that this “lockout condition” could be variably enforced—potentially allowing people to access their vehicles in a medical emergency (via a complicated system of user monitoring) or still get back and forth to work by only restricting travel outside of certain zones or times. Why, you might ask? Because Ford cares—about getting its money. “Allowing the use of the vehicle during weekdays avoids adversely affecting a livelihood of the owner of the vehicle and hampering the owner’s ability to make payments,” the company wrote.

And still, if the lockout doesn’t work, Ford has filed to patent tech that would allow its vehicles to self-repo. The company proposes versions of this idea that could work with both semi-autonomous and fully autonomous cars. In the former, the vehicle would move a short distance to be more easily towed away by a repo company. In the latter, the car would drive itself all the way back to the dealership it was purchased from, or to a nearby impound lot or scrap yard—depending on the vehicles’ value. The company also includes safeguards against owner defenses (i.e. locking the vehicle in a closed garage) that would automatically notify the police.

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