DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is getting out of the vehicle subscription business.
The automaker's finance arm Thursday said it has agreed to sell Canvas, a subscription platform it acquired in 2016, to Fair, a startup led by former TrueCar CEO Scott Painter. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.
With Canvas, the Ford and Lincoln brands had been piloting subscription services in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas. Customers could choose from a number of leased vehicles for a monthly fee starting at $400, which covered mileage, insurance, warranty, maintenance and roadside assistance.
The sale of Canvas is the latest example of the industry resetting its expectation on subscription services, which initially were met with much hype and excitement.
Cadillac in late 2018 indefinitely paused its Book by Cadillac subscription program, and though executives have vowed to relaunch it, they have not provided a time frame. Volvo revamped its program, Care by Volvo, after pushback from dealers and an investigation by the California Department of Motor Vehicles into whether it violated state franchise laws.
Ford, by comparison, had treaded carefully in the sector. Since starting Canvas as a pilot program, Ford Motor Credit Co. said it had serviced 3,800 customers. Lincoln executives last year voiced surprise over lackluster demand, noting that those who signed up were looking for short-term solutions and often dropped out after a few months.
While Ford no longer has a subscription platform, the automaker said it remained open to working with its dealers on new, innovative programs.
"Canvas built an impressive business and we learned a lot about subscription services, fleet management and the technology that underlies both," Sam Smith, executive vice president of strategy and future products at Ford Credit, said in a statement. "We are proud of the work that was done in support of Canvas and we wish the entire team the best of luck."
Fair, an app-based subscription model, has expanded rapidly since its mid-2017 launch. Officials said the app has been downloaded more than 3.2 million times by customers in more than 30 markets nationally.
Softbank Corp. led a $385 million round of funding for Fair in late 2018. Last month, Ally Financial Inc. said it would provide Fair with a $100 million debt facility.
With Fair, consumers can shop for used-vehicle leases with no fixed term through a mobile app. They scan their licenses to get prequalified for a range of monthly payments that cover maintenance, a warranty, insurance and roadside assistance. Customers can return their vehicle whenever they want.
Fair is led by Painter and Georg Bauer, former head of financial services for BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla's Europe/Asia-Pacific operation.
"Canvas has built innovative subscription products that are relevant to consumers today, and like Fair, has opened up new ways for consumers to gain access to mobility," Bauer said in a statement. "This acquisition underscores our shared commitment to providing consumers with the car they want on their own terms."
Ford said that effective immediately, Canvas customers will be transferred to Fair. Current vehicle pricing will not change as long as the customers stay in their current vehicles, a spokeswoman said in an email to Automotive News.