Ever wondered what if you miss an EMI for your newly-brought car? Well, besides tackling calls from the bank for payment? There is a possibility that the maker of your car can swing into action too. And how! Connected cars could be a boon for many, but can turn into curse for some. US-based auto giant Ford Motor has filed to patent a new technology that can remotely shut down a car in case of non-payment of dues. The new technology can disable key features likes air-conditioning to shut down the engine or even lock the owner out of the vehicle.
The only relieving part about this piece of news is that Ford Motor does not intend to use it on its customers yet. The new patent is part of several files Ford Motor has moved recently. However, the application for such patent did ruffle some feathers in the judiciary. “It really seems like you’re opening up a can of worms that, as a manufacturer, you don’t really need to be doing,” a senior attorney with the National Consumer Law Center was quoted by Bloomberg, reacting to Ford’s new technology.
The patent application moved by Ford Motor is termed as repossession-linked technology. It can turn off the air-conditioning of a car, disable its cruise control and automated windows features in case the owner fails to pay the dues. In worse cases, the technology will help the carmaker to even turn off the engine or disable accelerator of the vehicle, making it impossible for the owner to use it. It also proposes that Ford can command its autonomous vehicles to drive to a location where it can be towed away by another vehicle.
The patent application reads, “Disabling such components may cause an additional level of discomfort to a driver and occupants of the vehicle.” The tech will also trigger a constant beeping sound which Ford termed as ‘incessant and unpleasant’. Car owners will not be able to shut it off without getting in touch with the lender.
Bloomberg quoted a Ford spokesman who assured the carmaker is not planning to put it to use. “No plan to deploy this,” said the person. The carmaker also issued a statement saying, “We submit patents on new inventions as a normal course of business, but they aren’t necessarily an indication of new business or product plans.”
There is no clarity whether Ford will be awarded the patent. The legal authorities are in two minds over its possible misuse. The National Consumer Law Centre thinks some car loan lenders could possibly take advantage of it.
(With inputs from Bloomberg)
First Published Date: 03 Mar 2023, 12:36 PM IST