Ford Motor Co. is entering the car-sharing market with a program that will cut Ford Credit customers’ vehicle costs by enabling them to rent out their cars.
The pilot program, Peer-2-Peer Car Sharing, invites 26,000 select Ford Motor Credit Co. customers in six U.S. cities and London to rent their vehicles to other drivers for short-term use.
“It can be anything as short as an hour. Or it can be a day. Or it could be up to a week,” David McClelland, Ford Credit’s vice president of marketing, told Automotive News today.
The car-sharing program is designed to help customers offset monthly vehicle ownership costs. Ford is offering the six-month pilot to 14,000 customers in Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco, Calif., Portland, Ore., Chicago and Washington, D.C.
The program covers all late-model Ford-brand vehicles beginning with the 2005 model year that have fewer than 125,000 miles.
Ford CEO Mark Fields said the car-sharing program is still in the experimental stage but that it could eventually become profitable.
“What we’re trying to gauge here is first the interest and then the usage. We’ll see what kind of interest we’ll get,” Fields told reporters after speaking at the company’s annual “Further with Ford” conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. “We think this is a really unique way to help our customers -- give them more help."
San Francisco startup Getaround will oversee the car-share software that the 14,000 U.S. invitees would use to rent vehicles. Getaround is exclusively available in the program’s six pilot U.S. cities.
“If it’s popular, one of the options would be to look at expanding this on a national basis,” McClelland said.
The 12,000 London participants would use the easyCar Club rental system.
Ford owners in the U.S. will register their vehicle with Getaround. Then they will determine when they want to make their vehicles available to renters and how much they want to charge, McClelland said.
Owners will receive monthly income based on their rentals, with Getaround absorbing 40 percent of income to cover insurance and administration costs, McClelland said.
“I get the learnings, the owner gets the income, and the renter gets the mobility,” McClelland said.
“If [renters] had a good experience with vehicles, they’ll look favorably upon Ford in the future, which then involves the dealer,” he added.
A third of millennials in the U.S. are interested in renting out their belongings to supplement their income, and more than half are open to sharing rides with other people, according to data that Ford cited from research company Penn Schoen Berland.
“Consumers tell us they are interested in sharing the costs of vehicle ownership, and this program will help us understand how much that extends to customers who are financing a Ford vehicle,” McClelland said in a statement. “As most vehicles are parked and out of use much of the time, this can help us gauge our customers’ desires to pick up extra cash and keep their vehicles in use.”
The car-share pilot is the latest phase of a plan that Fields introduced in January, called Ford Smart Mobility, that aims to enhance connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles and the customer experience.
Ford has undertaken 25 experiments on topics related to helping consumers get around in the future. After gathering data for six months, Ford said its Smart Mobility plan will focus on two general areas: flexible use and ownership of vehicles, and urban commuting using multiple methods of transportation.
Nick Bunkley contributed to this report.