Imagine being a couple of weeks late on your car payment and starting your Mustang or F-150 on a hot day only to discover the air conditioning doesn’t work. If Ford secures a patent it applied for in August 2021 for “vehicle repossession” technology, owners who miss payments could find themselves unable to use important features or even locked out of their cars altogether. The technology, awaiting approval, will be activated remotely if drivers ignore payment delinquency notifications.
As The Drive reported earlier this week, the patent filing, “Systems and Methods to Repossess a Vehicle,” reveals that the system could even direct a vehicle with autonomous or semi-autonomous capability to drive to a tow truck or a repossession lot if the owner does not respond to multiple notices. The patent describes a process that begins with loss of functionality. If the owner still doesn’t pay, they could be locked out of their vehicle, though emergency unlocking via the car’s onboard camera might still be possible.
The patent also outlines how autonomous or semi-autonomous cars could repossess themselves if not in a garage by driving to a nearby location to avoid confrontations between the repossessors and owners.
The Drive notes that while Ford may not be planning to develop its patent soon, the idea of your car driving itself away because you missed payment(s) is unsettling. Ford is the only automaker to attempt to patent something like this, but it’s unlikely to be the last.
For now, though, Ford’s patent is just a proposal to simplify repossession. A Ford spokesman told the New York Post the company has no plans to deploy the technology and that submitting patents on new inventions is standard business procedure.