Car buyers at one Ford dealership can now limit their time in the showroom by purchasing or financing a vehicle online, and more dealerships will offer the option soon.
Ford Motor Credit Co. said Monday that customers at Ricart Ford in Groveport, Ohio, about 12 miles south of Columbus, will be able to use an online platform to choose a car, choose financing terms and purchase it before arriving at the dealership to sign paperwork and pick up the car.
Ford said it would eventually roll out the online platform to other Ford and Lincoln dealerships around the country.
The software platform was developed by online auto financing start-up AutoFi, with the Dearborn, Mich., automaker's financial services arm providing financing for the customer's purchase.
"By combining our fast and efficient credit-decision process with AutoFi's online capability, we are making the customer experience faster, smoother and simpler," Lee Jelenic, Ford Credit director of mobility, said in a statement.
Ford also said it made an investment in AutoFi but did not disclose the amount. AutoFi Chief Executive Kevin Singerman described the automaker as AutoFi's first "strategic investor." The company debuted last year.
Based in San Francisco, AutoFi makes a platform that connects car buyers with various financing options. Until the Ford deal, the company had worked only with auto franchises on used-car purchases, Singerman said.
In May, the company said it had raised $17 million in new financing.