Ford Motor Credit is testing out an innovative method of shared car leasing, and the pilot program is called Ford Credit Link. Will people like it? That's what they're currently trying to find out.
In February, Ford Motor Credit launched Ford Credit Link – a pilot for Ford Credit customers in Austin, Texas, and aimed at consumers who don’t need a vehicle full time, but would like access to their own set of wheels. This program offers leases on Ford vehicles to self-organized groups of three to six people.
"People already are sharing everything - from books to homes," said David McClelland, Ford Credit executive vice president, Marketing and Sales. "We’re seeing the potential for a shift from a single consumer paying for a single vehicle to several people sharing costs and benefits. Ford Credit Link makes Ford vehicles more readily available to people who may not want or need their own vehicle but have mobility requirements that must be met."
That could include households with multiple licensed drivers, neighbors with intermittent needs for a special vehicle such as a pickup truck, or friends, coworkers and college students. In other words, this means that families and small groups of friends and neighbors would have an opportunity to share a vehicle.
How Ford Credit Link Works
A vehicle plug-in device, coupled with a mobile app allows all members of the group to communicate with each other, keep up with maintenance, reserve the vehicle, know where it is when it is not currently reserved, and even make and view payments made on the vehicle. According to Roby Robarge, Global Product Manager for Ford Credit, the mobile app is "Where customers can really unlock the sharing experience."
The 24-month group leases are available at three Austin dealerships – Covert Ford, Leif Johnson Ford and Maxwell Ford. Each person in the group must meet Ford Motor Credit's qualifications for credit approval, and each person is liable for the full amount of the contract.
David McClelland explains what made Austin, Texas the best place to test Ford Credit Link: "Austin is a progressive city with a rich demographic mix. It has effective public transportation and consumers who use various mobility options but may not need a full vehicle lease to meet their transportation needs."
How Has It Been Doing?
In a recent article by Brooke Niemeyer of Credit.com, she stated that "Even though this program was announced earlier this year, no one has currently signed up to take part." Niemeyer also stated that Margaret Mellott, a spokesperson for Ford Credit, said their site is seeing a lot of traffic, but claims the lack of participation is because "People seem to be doing their homework as they consider how this might fit their lifestyles."
While a shared leasing program may be great for drivers with immaculate credit, subprime financing on an affordable new or used car is still the best - and often only - option for bad credit car buyers. However, if the Austin test ends up being successful, it could mean another cost-effective option for car ownership for bad credit car buyers in the future - after they've rebuilt their credit.
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