Car Payments and Leases During the COVID-19 Outbreak: What You Need To Know

can be reached at nkurczewski@yahoo.com
can be reached at nkurczewski@yahoo.com
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Car payments and automobile lease agreements should be the last thing on anyone’s mind during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But with a surge in job losses and temporary shutdowns of large portions of the economy, being informed and knowing your options is the best way to ease your car-related concerns.

  • To start, don’t panic. Almost every major automaker is making concessions to assist customers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Ride collected payment-related information from a cross section of automakers that offer hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles.
  • Each situation is different, but information available online, or accessed via helplines, can answer questions about late payments, the impact a late payment might have on credit scores, and what to do if a lease is expiring.

Information is the best tool anyone can have during uncertain times. With this in mind, the sedan, pickup truck, or sport-utility vehicle (SUV) sitting in your driveway or garage shouldn’t be adding to your stress levels during the coronavirus outbreak. We at Ride want to help in some small way, to assure car owners that companies are working to assist them in a number of ways.

This includes payment relief options, such as payment deferrals, the waiving of late-payment fees, and assistance with leased vehicles when returning the car could prove impossible, or irresponsible.

Ride has compiled a list of six car companies, with the primary focus on those who have hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles in their lineups. This isn’t meant as a one-stop solution to every possible problem or payment situation, but merely a representative sampling of what some car companies are doing to help. If your particular brand isn’t listed here, please go online and visit the manufacturer’s website for coronavirus-related news and assistance.

Consider this as a smart first step towards being informed, knowing your options, and working to alleviate car-related worries during these uncertain times.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Over the next two years, Jeep will introduce electrified versions of every model it offers, including the iconic Wrangler (seen here). The plug-in hybrid Jeeps will all share the same “4xe” name. (Photo: Jeep)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has bold plans to bring more electrified options to car shoppers. This includes plug-in hybrid variants of the Jeep Compass, Wrangler, and Renegade. Each SUV will sport the brand’s new 4xe name. For anyone shopping right now for a plug-in hybrid, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid offers 32 miles of electric driving range, plus more than 500 miles of total range from its combined gas-electric powertain.

For customers who financed their Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, Ram or Jeep vehicle using a Chrysler Capital account, the automaker encourages anyone with questions to call its dedicated helpline. Issues regarding late payments, missed payments, lease-end arrangements, and similar issues are being handled on a case-by-case basis.

FCA is also using zero-percent financing for up to 84 months on select models. Deals include deferred payments for 90 days on certain models in the Dodge, Ram, Chrysler and Jeep brand lineups.

Ford Motor Company

First deliveries of the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV are scheduled to begin in late 2020. The starting price for a Mach-E in Premium trim is approximately $50,000. (Photo: Ford)

It now seems like ages ago when Ford grabbed headlines last November with the introduction of the electric-powered Mustang Mach-E. With its SUV-like stance and muscle car design details, pre-orders surged for the Mach-E, which boasts 230-300 miles of range and up to 459 horsepower in range-topping GT trim.

Ford is encouraging existing customers to access their account manager online, or by using a special hotline, to discuss options with Ford Credit. In addition, Ford is offering car shoppers 90 days of deferred payment on any new vehicle.

General Motors

The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt is an electric hatchback that starts at approximately $36,000. Range for the 2020 model year has been increased to a total of 259 miles. (Photo: Chevrolet)

General Motors, like many automakers around the world, has seen production plummet and factories grind to a halt as the company curtails operations at its Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac brands. GM has a dedicated website that lists many of the questions car owners or prospective buyers might have right now. Topics include late-payment waivers, the effect a late payment might have on future credit scores, and lease-end assistance.

GM is also offering interest-free financing on loans of up to 84 months. The deal covers more than 40 models throughout the automaker’s four brands.

Hyundai

2019 Hyundai Kona ElectricThe Hyundai Kona Electric offers 258 miles of range and has an entry price of $37,190. (Photo: Hyundai)

Hyundai recently joined the EV market with vehicles like the electrified version of its Kona SUV. Hyundai also offers its Ioniq compact economy car with a choice of hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full-electric powertrains. The Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid delivers 25 miles of electric range, along with an EPA-estimated combined average of 52 mpg in a mix of city and highway driving.

The South Korean automaker is taking a three-pronged approach towards helping new and would-be customers during the Covid-19 crisis. Three months of deferred payments and zero-percent financing is being offered on select Hyundai vehicles between now and April 30.*

For current owners who’ve lost jobs or experienced other issues related to Covid-19, up to three months of deferred payments are available.

Taking things one step further is something Hyundai first offered in 2009, during the housing market crash and economic collapse. The automaker is offering to cover up to six months of car payments. This applies to owners who purchase or lease a Hyundai vehicle between March 14 and April 30, 2020, and subsequently lose their job due to the Covid-19 crisis at some point this year.

Nissan

The Nissan Leaf was one of the first affordable, mainstream electric cars when it came to market for the 2011 model year. The entry-level version of the Leaf starts at $30,000 and has a range of 150 miles. (Photo: Nissan)

Nissan was one of the first automakers to come up with a relatively affordable electric car. When it first arrived roughly 10 years ago, the Leaf hatchback worked hard to move EVs into the mainstream. Today, the Leaf still remains one of the most affordable ways to get into a battery-powered vehicle.

During the coronavirus crisis, Nissan is instructing customers with questions about vehicle financing, late fees, and similar topics to call a helpline to discuss payment relief on a case-by-case basis. Due to social-distancing requirements at its call center, the automaker warns that wait times could be longer than expected since fewer representatives are available. For potential new customers, Nissan is offering zero-percent financing on select models and 90-day delayed payment options.

Toyota

2019 Toyota Prius Prime Silver Front ViewThe Toyota Prius Prime allows for 25 miles of electric-only driving, before the four-cylinder gas engine springs into action for added range. (Photo: Toyota)

Toyota was an early advocate of hybrid vehicles, and the Japanese automaker presently has more than 10 electrified models across its lineup, including its premium brand Lexus. The Prius hatchback remains one of the most fuel-efficient cars available, thanks to its EPA-estimated 58 mpg city and 53 mpg highway averages.

Like Ford, Toyota has established a dedicated phone number for existing customers to call and discuss payment-relief options. The automaker also encourages people to sign up for its online services at Toyota Financial, to help expedite the process and provide easily accessible information.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Corporations are in crisis, but coronavirus is about more than shuttered factories and slumping stock prices. Helping new and existing customers at this painful time is a smart move, and one hopefully every major automaker will do in the days ahead.

*UPDATE: Hyundai contacted Ride soon after this story posted to say, “We recently extended the deferred payment option for new purchases to 4 months.” We thank them for the update.


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can be reached at nkurczewski@yahoo.com
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