Ford Launches Ford Credit Link Lease-Sharing Pilot Program in Austin, Texas

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Ford Credit Link

A Saturday during the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Traffic backed up. Crowds everywhere. Badges around necks and lines around blocks. Fortunately, Ford recently invited us to a backroom of Sullivan’s steakhouse, largely removed from the most humanly congested parts of downtown, to learn more about the Ford Credit Link lease-sharing program.

Dr. Ken Washington, Ford’s vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering, led the discussion and answered questions about the initiative which allows multiple people to lease a Ford vehicle.

Out of all of the parts of the world in which the Blue Oval does business, the “Live Music Capital of the World” is the launch site for the program. There are several reasons for that. One of them is that some people in Austin just might not need a car full-time. There are a variety of transportation methods available in the city, from city buses to numerous bike paths to a commuter rail. Walk around downtown long enough and you’ll even see packs of helmeted sightseers zipping along nearly silently on Segways. Other people just can’t afford an entire lease by themselves, so sharing one could be an attractive alternative way of getting access to a vehicle. Austin’s inner-city and Millennial populations played a role in Ford’s decision, too. It also didn’t hurt that the insurance provider for Ford Credit Link, Liberty Mutual, has a presence in the 512 area code.

Ford Fusion Sport 1

Ford Credit Link allows groups of three to six people to lease an eligible Ford (sorry Lincoln and Focus RS fans, but those are some of the vehicles that aren’t available through the program) for 24 months. Everyone will have to do their homework on their fellow members in the agreement because the group assumes all the risk of falling behind on payments and other circumstances, not Ford, although it will do its own investigating that’s a normal part of leasing, such as running credit checks. As Dr. Washington stated, the participants are “all in it together.” If someone backs out of the deal once it’s signed, it will be up to the remaining people in the lease to pick up the slack.

Making lease payments and scheduling usage of the vehicle is performed through the iOS- and Android-friendly Ford Credit Link app, which is connected to a data-logging Plug-In Device in the leased Ford.

The Ford Credit Link pilot will last two years and the company will accept up to 100 group leases in that time. Currently, only people in the Lone Star State are eligible to participate in it, but Ford will consider applicants from other states. Dr. Washington sees the potential for the program to reduce traffic congestion because multiple people will be using one car at different times instead of several simultaneously. He also mentioned the appeal to some of saving some money by group-leasing a daily driver, such as a Focus, in order to throw more funds at an enthusiast vehicle, such as a Mustang.

Over the course of the next 24 months, Dr. Washington and his colleagues up in Dearborn, Michigan will learn a variety of things from Ford Credit Link, including the final costs to participants, which vehicles are the most popular, and how group leasing will affect vehicle values at the end of the leases. The Texas-based pilot will also teach the automaker whether or not it should expand Ford Credit Link to other states.

via [Ford Credit Link] and [Ford Media Center]

photo credit [Ford]

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