Auto dealers have long been considered a bottleneck for EV sales, and automakers that are serious about selling EVs are working closely with their dealers to make the necessary changes (and to weed out those who really don’t want to go electric).
Ford has now unveiled an electrification strategy to its 3,000-strong dealer network. Dealers have until October 31 to decide whether they will invest in one of two certified EV tiers to partake in Ford’s Model e EV business. Only those dealers who buy in will be authorized to sell EVs from the beginning of 2024.
In March, Ford split its vehicle business into three separate entities: Ford Blue for legacy ICE vehicles and PHEVs; Model e for battery-electric vehicles; and Ford Pro for commercial and fleet vehicles.
As reported by Electrek, which recently sat in on Ford’s annual meeting with its dealership network, the automaker is giving its dealers a choice: make the necessary investments to become a Model e dealer, or stick with legacy vehicles only. (Dealers who don’t choose to go electric at the moment will have another chance to apply for Model e certification in 2027.)
“We’re betting on the dealers, we’re not going to go direct,” said CEO Jim Farley at the dealers’ event. “But we need to specialize. We do that with unique standards.”
He went on to outline the new standards (which sound roughly similar to those that GM recently established for its dealers).
Ford Model e dealerships will be required to train specialized EV teams that are knowledgeable enough to explain electric driving to customers. Ford will also establish a new EV University to train dealers. Model e dealerships will also need to install back-of-house charging infrastructure to support sales and maintenance, plus one or more DC fast chargers (of at least 120 kW) available to the public on the Blue Oval Network.
Ford also wants its dealers to offer transparent, non-negotiable pricing. Dealerships will still set their own prices, as required by law (automakers only “suggest” a retail price). However, Ford says it will monitor dealers to make sure pricing is consistent and fair. (Ford and other automakers have taken a dim view of the hefty markups that some dealerships have chosen to slap onto new EVs that are in short supply.)
Ford estimates that the cost of becoming a Model Certified dealer will be around $500,000—or $900,000 to earn the more coveted title of Model e Certified Elite—and most of this will cover the cost of installing DC fast chargers.