It works this way: a group of three to six people (defined by you) of friends, family or outdoor buddies share a lease on the selected vehicle, dividing the cost equally on the lease or paying based on another formula. Ford Motor Credit has a method for keeping track of each of the lessees so the group can divide costs by usage, if they choose.
That means that if one of your lease buddies can take that baby out fishing every day, he can pay more than those who have real jobs; or a member or members of the group who need a truck for work can pay accordingly while the others pay based upon their own usage.
Three Austin dealers — Covert Ford, Leif Johnson Ford and Maxwell Ford — are the only dealerships participating in the pilot, which will cover 100 vehicles and include most Ford vehicles. You do not need to live in Austin to participate, however. Term of the lease is 24-months and each member of the buying group must qualify.
The pilot was announced in January at the Detroit Auto Show, but it was more fully explained at an event for auto journalists at SXSW last week by Ken Washington, vice president of research and advanced engineering for Ford. Washington is a key player in Ford’s global initiative to be both a global vehicle maker and a mobility leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles and the customer experience. The pilot supports Ford Smart Mobility activities.
This is not rocket science. You and your group go to one of the three participating Austin dealers and select a vehicle. Each person fills out the paperwork and goes through the credit approval process. They must all pass the tests for creditworthiness.
Once the paperwork is approved, the group shares the lease with all of the individuals on the contract. Ford has an insurance partner for the pilot so there is no need to search for a carrier.
An app will provide the group with realtime use information on the vehicle by each member of the group should the group decide to divvy up the cost by usage rather than equally sharing costs.
My advice — I love this program but…
- Know your group members well or don’t participate. If anyone drops out during the term of the lease the rest of the members of the group are responsible for the rest of the lease. One way to prevent a problem would be to put the cost of the lease in an account similar to an escrow so that everyone is protected.
- In addition to the legal lease contract draw up documents that specifically define how the costs will be shared, how things will be handled if more than one person wants to use the vehicle at the same time, and other issues. Have any paperwork signed by everyone and notarized. No absentees.
- Have documentation as to how excess mileage or damage will be handled by the group when the lease is done and the vehicle turned back in. The keyword should be no surprises.
- Have an agreement in advance as to how the vehicle will be handled at the end of the lease. There is always a purchase option and if more than one group member wants to purchase at the end of the lease. There could be hard feelings if you don’t work this out and document it in advance.
- Think of this as a two-year marriage with lifetime implications. It involves money, the taking on of debt and a whole host of feelings and emotions. Treat it seriously, especially if you want to be on speaking terms with everyone at the end of the lease.