Ford Motor Company filed a US patent application that shows autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles could potentially repossess themselves if their owners miss lease or loan payments.
The idea of self-driving cars repossessing themselves might sound dystopian, but it is not surprising that automakers are considering this technology to ensure payment. Repossession is a common practice, and as we’ve described recently, cracks are beginning to form in the subprime auto loan market (read: here & here).
While this patent application was first filed in Aug. 2021 and formally published on Feb. 23, it could be years before Ford implements such a technology.
The patent, titled “Systems and Methods to Repossess a Vehicle,” explains how a future lineup of Ford vehicles would be capable of “[disabling] a functionality of one or more components of the vehicle.”
If a driver misses a car payment, the vehicle will disable air conditioning, radio, GPS, and cruise control to irritate the driver.
If the owner misses more payments, the repossession cycle will worsen. The car would emit an “incessant and unpleasant sound.” Worse, the vehicle might lock out the driver on certain days until payments are made.
And still, if the lockout doesn’t work and payments are missed, the vehicle could drive to a safe, nearby location for a repo team to seize it and avoid confrontation with the owner.
It is worth noting that filing a patent application does not necessarily mean the technology will be implemented, but the takeaway is a glimpse of the dystopic future.