If the vehicle owner falls behind on payments, a new patent could allow US car maker, Ford, to act by playing sounds or driving themselves back to the showroom or even the recycling yard.
The patent was awarded to Ford on 23 February after submitting to the United States Patent Office in August 2021.
The process begins by attempting to notify the owner of their account by sending a message to the car or a smartphone. Failing this, sounds will be played inside the car when the driver sits at the wheel until the vehicle is turned off. Following this, features such as music and air conditioning could be disabled and limiting access to the car on certain days or times. Further steps, if payments have still not been made, would be to activate the self-driving feature, and the owner will have to give up the car.
In some cases, if the car has high mileage, the patent notes it would drive itself to the vehicle recycling yard to be recycled.
The reasoning for the patent, according to the application, is that an owner of the vehicle may default ona payment towards a vehicle for various reasons. After the default payment notice, followed by a notice of intent to initiate repossession, if payments have not been fulfilled within a certain period of time, the owner may still disregard the notice. And after additional warnings, the lender may repossess the vehicle. Typically, the owner is uncooperative at this time and may attempt to impede the repossession operation, which can sometimes lead to confrontation. The document states, “It is therefore desirable to provide a solution to address this”.
Ivan Drury, director of insights at car buying website Edmund, 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.” Drury added: “That’s where we’re starting to see the repossessions happen because it’s just everything else starting to pin you down.”