Automakers have been looking for ways during the pandemic to bolster the confidence of wary potential buyers who are worried they could get a new vehicle then lose their job and be stuck with a payment they can no longer afford.
Ford is the latest looking to assuage those concerns with its new Ford Promise program that offers folks who buy or lease a new vehicle the option to return the vehicle if they lose their jobs within the first year.
“We feel like right now, the economy is at the stage of recovery where people want things to be back to normal, they want to buy, but they’re still a little nervous about what the future holds,” said Mark LaNeve, vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service. “We want them to know we understand that, and we’re here to support them in their buying decisions.”
Under the new program, Ford Credit will value the vehicle using the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) average trade-in value, reduce the customer’s outstanding balance by that amount and waive up to an additional $15,000, which can mean the vehicle may not be entirely free as the customer is responsible for any difference remaining.
However, it’s a far cry from being on the hook for the entire price of the vehicle. In addition, to owing the difference, if there is any, the customer is responsible for any late or deferred payments due and vehicle damage. Once the conditions are met, the account is reported as closed and paid.
According to Cox Automotive, at least 32% of potential customers are delaying automotive purchases due to market uncertainty and employment concerns. Ford is launching the new ad campaign to reveal the new plan today, and it focuses on supporting consumers eager to move forward.
Car companies haven’t just been offering help with making payments to get buyers into showrooms – or onto their computers depending upon the type of rules in place where a shopper lives – they’ve also been offering more favorable financing terms and bigger rebates.
“Customers are realizing it might take a while for things to completely feel normal again, if in fact, they ever do,” said Matt VanDyke, director, U.S. Marketing.
“They need our support now more than ever,” VanDyke says. “And it’s here, in an offer that applies to both new and used vehicles leased through Ford Credit. It just shows there’s no better place to shop than at a Ford dealer.”
Prior to this new option, Ford Credit has offered other programs aimed at helping potential and existing owners get through the tough economic times many are experiencing. The Built to Lend a Hand program allowed eligible new car customers in the U.S. to defer payments for up to three months and Ford to pay for three months.
Ford’s captive finance company also offered program to help existing U.S. customers affected by COVID-19 to call and discuss options such as payment deferrals if they were having tough time making their payments.
The new program is open now through Sept. 30, and it covers 2019, 2020 and 2021 purchased or leased new, used and certified pre-owned vehicles financed through Ford Credit. The vehicle must be for personal use only — commercial use contracts are ineligible. The complimentary protection begins 30 days after vehicle purchase or lease.