Ford's driving its loyal customers away

Ford's driving its loyal customers away

Ford's driving its loyal customers away

Ford Motor Company has filed for a patent on technology that could, among other things, make its vehicles drive themselves to the repo man if the user misses a couple of payments.

The cars could simply beep incessantly, lock out the driver, or operate with a disabled air conditioner or radio until payments are caught up. The car company says it has no plans to use the technology, but talk host Jeff Crank is not convinced.

"Why would you go through the expense and the legal work of applying for a patent on something if you're not going to use it," he wonders. "Why don't they also apply for patents on some drugs somewhere? They're not gonna use that."

"We submit patents on new inventions as a normal course of business, but they aren't necessarily an indication of new business or product plans," Ford said in the statement.

Crank has been a Ford owner all his life, as was his father and his grandfather. Still, he says brand loyalty only goes so far.

Crank, Jeff Crank

"I'm just here to say to Ford or to other companies, there's going to be a time when citizens just say, 'You know what? If I have the choice between buying a Ford -- who's going to do this to me -- and buying a Chevy -- who's not -- I guess I'll just go with the Chevy.'"

On the topic of loan payments, Crank rhetorically asks why the Biden administration is not offering to pay off car loans. After all, more people owe money on auto loans than they do on student debt.

"Paying off everybody's car loan would be a lot more fair than choosing to pay off people's student debt," Crank submits. "People who have student debt are all college educated individuals."

Fortune points out that Ford's application for this patent emerges at a "troubling time" for car owners. Loan delinquencies have been steadily ticking back up from their pandemic lull; Cox Automotive data showed severely delinquent auto loans in January hitting their highest point since 2006.

The media organization adds that use of technology to aid repossessions is not new, but the patent application is wide-ranging, even proposing the idea that an autonomous vehicle could drive itself to a "more convenient" location to be collected by a tow truck.