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Ford bows out of car-subscription biz with sale of Canvas

Fair, another subscription company, bought Ford's Canvas business.

Ford Canvas vehicle delivery
Canvas was available in San Francisco and Los Angeles under Ford.

It's the end of the road for Ford and its subscription business, Canvas. The automaker on Thursday said it had agreed to sell Canvas to Fair, another vehicle-subscription company.

The financial aspects of the deal are not public, but Fair will acquire all of Canvas' assets. Canvas was previously a fully owned Ford subsidiary, and without it, the automaker effectively exits the car-subscription service industry. Fair said the acquisition will help make car subscriptions more commonplace for more drivers in the US.

Ford said it learned a lot from the business, but didn't offer any details about its own future in the subscription segment.

"Canvas built an impressive business and we learned a lot about subscription services, fleet management and the technology that underlies both," said Sam Smith, executive vice president of strategy and future products at Ford Credit. "We are proud of the work that was done in support of Canvas and we wish the entire team the best of luck."

Canvas CEO Ned Ryan said the Fair acquisition was a "natural fit" for the company.

Fair's approach is slightly different from those of some of the more prominent subscription models. Shoppers download the Fair app and basically shop for used vehicle leases. A shopper's prequalified monthly payment includes maintenance, a warranty, insurance and roadside assistance. Users can also turn the car in whenever they'd like.

Across the industry, subscription models remain uncharted waters. While Porsche recently expanded its pilot Passport program to new markets, Cadillac has suspended its version. Book by Cadillac has been on hiatus since late 2018 after being one of the first car subscription services to launch in the US. Care by Volvo is perhaps the most popular and well-known service today.

Ford told Roadshow in a statement it will continue working with dealers "on developing innovative ways to meet the changing needs of customers."

Originally published Sept. 12, 11:29 a.m. PT.

Update, 1:06 p.m.: Adds additional comment from Ford.

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