| DETROIT, June 7
DETROIT, June 7 Silicon Valley's latest mobility
startup, a short-term vehicle leasing company called Canvas, is
backed by old-school muscle: Ford Motor Credit Co, the dealer
and consumer financing arm of U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co
From its San Francisco base, Canvas started offering
variable-term leases with flexible payment options to Bay area
customers in early May, with plans to eventually roll out the
service to other cities.
Canvas's roots date back to an earlier startup called
"Our mission is to identify, test and launch financial
products that meet the changing needs of consumers," said Ned
Ryan, co-founder of Breeze and chief executive officer of
Canvas, in an interview.
The focus on consumers, including those who might not
qualify for conventional auto leases or don't want to make
long-term financial commitments, is a pivot from Breeze's
original mission, which was to provide short-term vehicle leases
to ride-sharing drivers who worked mainly for Uber and Lyft.
When both ride-sharing firms began offering lease plans of
their own, including short-term financing deals through General
Motors Co's Maven subsidiary, the potential market for
Breeze thinned markedly and the company ceased operations in
Seeing a related opportunity and a broader audience, Ford
Credit acquired the assets of Breeze, along with many of its
executives and employees, in November 2016 and rebranded the
company as Canvas.
Ford Credit recognized "the need for financial services and
technology to facilitate our future vision of mobile," said
David McClelland, executive vice president of marketing and
The Breeze acquisition gave Ford Credit access to a
web-based platform and month-to-month vehicle "subscriptions"
that bundle maintenance, insurance and roadside assistance,
aimed at younger, non-traditional drivers.
Because Canvas buys used Ford vehicles coming off lease, it
also gives the automaker a new source of revenue and another way
to manage used-car values, which have plummeted in recent
Unlike Breeze, Canvas does not compete head-to-head with
Maven, which offers ride-sharing drivers short-term leases on
new Chevrolet Bolt EV electric vehicles and used GM vehicles,
through such programs as Maven Gig and Lyft Express Drive.
Canvas is aiming at consumers who want "a simpler, more
flexible alternative to car ownership," said Ryan. "We're
addressing the void in the consumer space between daily rentals
and long-term (financial) commitments."
The pitch, Ryan added, could not be more simple: "You just
add the gas."
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)