Modern "intelligent" cars used to annoy careless occupants with beeps, for example if they didn't buckle their seat belts. In the future, it could also become uncomfortable if the seller has to wait too long for an installment payment. For this purpose, Ford has patented a corresponding system in the USA.
Why would an automaker develop technology that would create an "extra level of discomfort" for the "driver or occupant"? Ford has filed a patent for this in the USA. The car company protected a procedure with which the manufacturer and seller can switch off the air conditioning or the radio, cause a permanently unpleasant beep or lock the owner himself out of his vehicle.
According to the patent application, this could be used if a buyer defaults on his loan or leasing installments. According to the document, it is even envisaged that fully autonomous vehicles could be returned to the seller in such cases for the purpose of attachment, even against the will of the owner.
When asked by the American media, Ford emphasized that there were no plans to use the patent in practice. Group-wide, more than 1,000 ideas are protected each year. This is part of the corporate culture to promote "innovations". A patent application is not an indication of whether the inventions will also be used.
The alarm bells are still ringing among consumer advocates. Once on the market, these methods could also be used by sellers to put their customers under pressure - for whatever reason - with dubious methods. Ford as a manufacturer is opening up a new, unnecessary keg, "Bloomberg" quotes an expert from the National Center for Consumer Law.
The patent is attracting attention because auto loan defaults -- and related foreclosures -- have risen sharply in the United States in recent years. At the end of last year, over five percent of so-called problem customers were more than 60 days in arrears with their debt service, more than twice as many as two years earlier.
Using automated disruption or repatriation measures would be significantly easier and cheaper for lenders than having staff contact defaulting customers over the phone or in person. According to the patent, when the beep sounds or the locks are locked, debtors can be prompted, for example by smartphone, to confirm receipt of a reminder or to initiate a payment. The system could then automatically release the vehicle again.