Ford wants to allow your car to lock you out — and even drive itself to an impound lot or scrapyard — if you miss payments
Ford wants to patent a system that would let cars repossess themselves if drivers miss payments.
At first, the cars would lose the use of features like GPS, air conditioning, and the radio.
If the owner still skips payments, the car could lock them out and drive itself to a repo agency or even a scrapyard.
Ford's latest patent application shows a bizarre new way that cars could be repossessed in the future if their owners don't make payments on time.
The patent application, first reported by The Drive, was filed in August 2021 but wasn't published until last week. It shows that Ford is interested in building a system that would allow a car to lock out its driver and even repossess itself, if its driver doesn't keep up with payments.
Ford says it's imagining the system as a solution to the issue of owners behind on payments being "uncooperative" and attempting to "impede the repossession operation."
In the patent application, Ford describes the use of a "repossession system computer" that can facilitate the process, which starts out with some minor annoyances that would cause "discomfort" to the vehicle owner. If a driver ignores warnings about their missing payments, the process would begin with the computer disabling functionality of features like cruise control, GPS, air conditioning, and the radio. The computer could also prompt the car to start emitting an "incessant and unpleasant sound" whenever the driver is there.
If the owner still doesn't act on the missing payments warning, the computer will really raise the stakes. The car may lock its owner out, with some caveats. In one example scenario, the patent application said the computer might prompt a lockout during the weekends only so as not to affect the owner's ability to work during the weekdays to earn money to "make payments towards the vehicle."
Alternatively, the car might define a "geofence" around the driver's home, and the person would only be able to use the car within those parameters; in some cases, the owner's driving could be further limited to certain days or even certain times of day, according to the filing.
If the owner is still behind on payments at this point, the car may take some pretty drastic action. It may autonomously drive itself to a spot "convenient for a tow truck to tow the vehicle." It could also drive itself to a repossession agency, lending institution, or impound lot. In yet another case, the repossession system computer may communicate with the computer of the lending institution to identify the car's market value. If it would cost more to repossess the car than the car is worth, the vehicle could even drive itself to a scrapyard.
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