How Ford is Adapting the Car Buying Process for Shoppers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Jack R. Nerad | Apr 16, 2020

In times of trouble, each of us could use a helping hand, and that's the crux of Ford's "Built to Lend a Hand" program in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

How Ford is Adapting the Car Buying Process for Shoppers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Among the most aggressive and innovative global automakers in terms of its moves to counter the crisis, Ford has put together several initiatives for current customers, prospective customers, and Ford dealers. One of the "Built to Lend a Hand" program's key goals is to persuade prospective car buyers that the health crisis actually represents a good buying opportunity. To do that, Ford is offering generous terms to buyers both in terms of discounts and deferred payments.

Similarly, Ford dealers are going out of their way to do business in an environment radically changed from the one they faced just a month ago.

Ford New-Vehicle Incentives - Find the best deals!

When U.S. car sales began to fall off the cliff in mid-March, Ford Motor Company consulted with its dealers looking for steps it could take to better the situation. The dealers told Ford the most urgent customer need is payment support that will give some peace of mind to potential new customers whose economic fortunes have suddenly become cloudy. That prompted the creation of the "Built to Lend a Hand" program that grants customers significant leeway before they have to make their initial payments.

According to the terms of the new program, Ford will pay for the equivalent of the first three months of car payments and customers can further defer their first payment for an additional three months. That means that buyers opting in to the program don't need to make their first car payment until half a year after they sign to purchase their vehicles. The new program is available to eligible new car buyers purchasing new 2019 and 2020 model-year vehicles (with the exception of the 2020 F-Series Super Duty). To qualify, the vehicles must be financed through Ford Credit.

In addition to the overarching "Built to Lend a Hand" program, Ford is offering a broad spectrum of special lease and purchase offers across virtually its entire 2020 lineup. For instance, in many areas of the country customers can lease a 2020 Ford Explorer SUV for $269 per month for 36 months with $4,389 is due at signing. Similar offers are available on a wide spectrum of Ford models, including the popular F-150 full-size pickup.

For those seeking to purchase a vehicle, Ford is offering a variety of cash "retail incentives" and 5.9% APR financing for up to 84 months. The offers are regional so check to see which are available in your area.

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Ford Dealership Changes - Find the best deals!

The coronavirus has altered the way most retailers do business, and that is certainly true for Ford dealers. According to a Ford spokesperson we talked with, service work and parts sales are still being performed in most Ford dealers. New and used car sales are also ongoing at most dealers but many of them are emphasizing shopping on individual dealer internet sites accompanied by telephone or other electronic communications versus in-store visits.

Helped with financial assistance from Ford Motor Company, Ford reports just over three-quarters of its dealers will work with customers on remote vehicle delivery for sales and service. Convenient service scheduling and one-touch access to roadside assistance is available via the FordPass app. Both new cars and cars returned to customers from service are disinfected according to Centers for Disease Control-approved techniques.

Some Ford dealers are offering test drives by appointment, and home delivery of the test-drive cars is possible in many instances.

Ford Customer Relief & Support - Find the best deals!

The coronavirus has caused unexpected layoffs for millions of American workers, while millions of other workers have seen paychecks whittled away as businesses in many locales went into lockdown. Of course, thousands of Americans are also facing health issues, some of them catastrophic, that affect their ability to make their monthly payments on time, so Ford has instituted a program offering customers delayed payment options.

In response, Ford is making it as easy as possible for its customers to obtain help. "We want to make sure that anyone who needs assistance knows it's available," said Marion Harris, chief executive officer, Ford Motor Credit Company, in a statement.

The automaker is encouraging financially strapped Ford Credit customers in the U.S. who purchased or are leasing vehicles to contact Ford Credit to discuss their options. Depending on their circumstances, they may be able to change the payment due date or delay payment. 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. Since the telephone hotline has long wait times, Ford suggests using the online or app options.

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

Ford Community Support - Find the best deals!

Ford Motor Company Fund's new COVID-19 Donation Match program gives employees and others the opportunity to support nonprofits and community groups in more than 20 countries as they cope with coronavirus-related issues. The projects focus on addressing hunger, shelter and mobility needs, providing educational resources, and delivering critical medical supplies and services to communities in need. The $500,000 in matching funds include contributions from Ford Fund and Bill Ford, who started the Ford Volunteer Corps 15 years ago.

Ford Fund's new "Read and Record" virtual volunteering project invites Ford employees around the world to record videos that feature readings of children's books in their native languages. The online library will be cataloged by language, and multilingual Ford employees are encouraged to read in languages other than English. Ford Fund plans to share the library with philanthropic groups that serve children and families.

The Ford Fund website outlines volunteer opportunities and provides free online activities for people at home during the pandemic.

The information contained in this article was accurate as of April 16, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation, and automakers are making regular changes to their efforts to help customers, support dealers and communities, and encourage sales.

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