Would You Share A New Car With Five People?

A new program offers groups of buyers to lease a new car together, with an app to manage payments and maintenance.

By Alain StephensJanuary 15, 2016 2:23 pm

Some say 2015 was the year the sharing economy really took off – the boom in house swaps, the rise of ride-sharing services. This week the American car maker Ford Motor company announced a radical addition to the sharing economy – and it’s launching right here in Texas.

Claudia Grisales, a business reporter with the Austin American-Statesman, says the program, launching in Austin, will let groups of people – rather than only one person – lease a car for 24 months.

“They’ll let anywhere from three to six people lease the same vehicle,” she says. “And this group of people that lease the same vehicle will, through a mobile app, be able to reserve the vehicle, check or set-up maintenance, or set up payments on a shared basis.”

For a 2016 Ford Fusion hybrid, a one-person lease (with a $3,000 down payment) would cost about $300 a month. Sharing the lease with five other people lowers the monthly payment to $55 a month. Grisales says it sounds complicated, but she says about ten years ago, a coworker of hers bought a pick-up truck with four other people that they shared every week.

“It was one big happy family,” she says. “It’s kind of posing the same question of, why would you share an apartment or a home with five other people? It’s because you know them, you trust them and this is a way to save some money and be more efficient with your use of your vehicle.”

Grisales says concerns about cleanliness or other issues could be worked out through the app. “It’s just a matter of policing each other and saying, please pick up after yourself,” she says.

Austin has been a hotbed for ride-sharing, Grisales says. “The city is considered one of the top markets in the country for these ride-sharing experiments,” she says. “And for Ford to jump in, I think it says a lot about that automaker. They’re looking at these experiments and they don’t want to be left behind.”