LONDON -- Ford says it might expand its UK "payment holiday" program across the rest of Europe to boost sales, as showrooms remain closed due to coronavirus restrictions.
Under the program, the first three monthly payments for new cars or vans are deferred and buyers are offered cash back equivalent to three payments, up to a total of 1,500 pounds (1,700 euros or $1,850).
Customers can put the cash toward three additional monthly payments, so they can potentially avoid putting up any money for six months.
The program applies to Ford vehicles ordered online from April 3 until May 3. They must be financed through Ford Credit.
Ford has a similar payment relief offer in the U.S. Also in the U.S., General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, through their financial services companies, are offering to delay initial payments to 120 days to qualified buyers.
In Europe, FCA is offering to defer monthly payments until January 2021, but at a relatively high interest rate of 6.45 percent. The interest on the Ford Credit loans can be zero percent on some models.
The program could be expanded to other European countries, the automaker said.
“Ford Credit are reviewing solutions to maximize support for new car and van buyers across Europe. These may differ country by country,” a Ford spokeswoman told Automotive News Europe.
The UK is Ford’s biggest market in Europe. The automaker's UK registrations fell 53 percent in March in a total market down 44 percent. The drop pushed Ford, the UK's longtime market leader, into second place for the month behind Volkswagen brand.
Automakers across Europe are suffering from a catastrophic fall in sales across March as a result of production shutdowns and dealership closures. Sales fell 53 percent in the region, according to data supplied by market analyst Matthias Schmidt. Italy was hardest hit with a fall of 85 percent followed by France with 72 percent.