With one monthly payment, consumers may soon be able to lease a Ford car and pay for its insurance and even oil changes.
Ford is preparing to test a "one-stop" leasing program in upscale Westchester County, N.Y., within 90 days. The company is also talking with a major oil company to see if gasoline purchases can be included.
"It would be a turnkey operation, so all they would do is write one check--to Ford Motor Credit--a month," said John G. Clissold, executive vice president of North American Operations for Ford Motor Credit Co. "Research tells us [consumers] want an absolutely no-hassle lease."
Still, such leases won't be cheap, he said.
The project is aimed at busy, upscale drivers who have little time for tinkering with their cars. "It doesn't make sense for everybody--we think about 5% to 7% for openers," Clissold said.
Industry applauded the idea.
"Anything consumers can view as a much easier, idiot-proof way of operating a vehicle is a step in the right direction," said Steve Kosowoski of Auto Pacific Group in Santa Ana.
Neither Chrysler Corp. nor General Motors Corp. has a similar no-hassle program, spokesmen for those auto makers said Monday.
Leasing has been growing in popularity. In 1989, only 8% of Ford's retail customers leased their vehicles. Today, about 22% do.
Lease customers typically keep their vehicles for 24 months, compared to four years for average buyers, Clissold said. In the short lease term, less is likely to go wrong with a new car or truck.
With fewer problems experienced, lease customers can be expected to be more loyal when their lease expires, Clissold said.
Ford Motor Credit is still working out details, such as getting dealers to competitively price oil changes with quick-change lube operations, even though the work may be done by technicians trained to do more sophisticated maintenance.