Ford Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Jack R. Nerad | March 24, 2020

Ford Motor Company’s response to the coronavirus health crisis and the ensuing economic upheaval is one of the most aggressive among global automakers. With hundreds of millions of American workers idled by business and plant closures, health-related lockdowns and travel restrictions, the auto manufacturers are battling strong headwinds. To help current customers who are suddenly experiencing bad times and to persuade other consumers that now is a good time to buy a vehicle, Ford has instituted a number of initiatives designed to answer consumer needs.

Ford Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Ford Customer Relief Programs - Find the best deals!

Ford is aware that some of its current customers might encounter unexpected difficulties in making their monthly loan or lease payments. To help, the automaker is encouraging existing Ford Credit customers in the U.S. affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to get in touch and discuss their options.

Eligibility for changes or payment schedules in limited to people who purchased or leased vehicles through Ford Credit, which will consider changes on a case by case basis. Ford Credit has established a special hotline for this purpose —1-800-723-4016. Alternatively, customers can reach their account manager at or through the FordPass app.

"We want to make sure that anyone who needs assistance knows it's available," said Marion Harris, chief executive officer, Ford Motor Credit Company.

Those Ford and Lincoln customers who financed or leased their vehicles with another financial institution are urged to contact that institution directly. Many are offering similar payment relief.

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Ford and Lincoln dealers told Ford Motor Company the most urgent need to steady sales is payment support for potential new customers whose economic fortunes have suddenly become cloudy in the face of the coronavirus epidemic.

In response to that sentiment, Ford Motor Company created the "Built to Lend a Hand" program that offers customers six months of leeway before they have to make their initial payments. Under the terms of the new Coronavirus Car Payment Plans, Ford will pay for the equivalent of three months of car payments and customers can defer their first payment for up to three months for a total of six months. The new program is available to eligible new car buyers purchasing new 2019 and 2020 model year vehicles, excluding the 2020 F-Series Super Duty. To qualify, the vehicles must be financed through Ford Credit.

As a further incentive, Ford Motor Company is offering financial assistance to help Ford and Lincoln dealers perform pickup of trade-ins and delivery of new vehicles at a customer’s home or office. According to a Ford spokesperson, service work is still being performed in most dealers, and showroom sales traffic at dealerships varies by state. Dealers are disinfecting new cars and cars returned from service to owners in accordance with Centers for Disease Control-approved techniques.

Ford Factory Closures - Find the best deals!

A senior Ford Motor Company spokesperson told J.D. Power that the automaker has suspended or is in the process of suspending operations at virtually all Ford plants worldwide. An exception is China, where factories and other facilities were temporarily shuttered, but are now reopening as the country begins to move beyond the crisis, he said.

The suspension of manufacturing operations has idled about 55,000 North American workers. Thousands of other workers in continental Europe, Great Britain, and South America are also temporarily out of work due to the crisis. Most recently, Ford announced the suspension of manufacturing operations in India, South Africa, Thailand, and Vietnam.

"The primary motivations, like for other actions we've taken across the company in the past several weeks, are simple: protecting the safety and well-being of our people and helping to limit the spread of the coronavirus in communities where we operate," T.R. Reid, Ford's director, corporate and public policy communications, told us.

Ford's U.S., Canadian and Mexican manufacturing facilities are tentatively scheduled to resume production on March 30 after a thorough cleaning and sanitization effort.

Ford Economic Outlook & Sales Forecast - Find the best deals!

The combination of fear of disease, economic uncertainty, plant closures, and curtailment of some retail operations are certain to affect Ford's sales and financial results for calendar year 2020. Since the current situation is fluid, Ford spokespeople were unable and unwilling to discuss the auto industry's overall outlook or that of Ford Motor Company.

"For competitive and other reasons, we have not provided specific commentary about the effects of the coronavirus on global or national economies, nor on Ford's business," a Ford spokesperson said.

Auto industry sales were up sharply in February, before the coronavirus epidemic escalated into a pandemic that sent stock markets tumbling around the world. In the wake of the crisis, sales forecasts predict that U.S. auto sales will range between 11.2 million and 16.4 million this year. The latter would be a virtual repeat of 2019 calendar-year sales, while the former would represent a disaster for the industry and for the American economy as a whole. It is predicated on a scenario in which many Americans would be restricted to their homes throughout the summer, accompanied by a prolonged economic downturn.

Some experts say the most likely outcome falls between these extremes, resulting in a sales year of somewhere between 13.2 and 15.3 million units.

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