Ford Abandons EV Certification Program for Dealers

Ford has decided to discontinue its controversial EV dealership program, dubbed the Model e Certified Program, which required dealers to invest between US$500,000 and US$1 million to sell electric vehicles (EVs). This decision, effective from July 1, 2024, comes less than two years after the program’s introduction and aims to open EV sales to all Ford dealers without the stringent certification requirements.

The initial EV dealership program, launched in September 2022, mandated that dealers become “EV Certified” by investing heavily in DC fast chargers and EV training for staff. The investment was seen as necessary to support the growing popularity of EVs. However, as Ford’s EV sales growth has not met the high expectations set during the program’s inception, the automaker has decided to make its EVs available to its entire dealership network without the expensive buy-in.

Marin Gjaja, Ford’s Chief Operating Officer, explained the rationale behind the decision, stating, “We want to make these great vehicles more accessible to everyone. There is always a learning curve with a new technology, and introducing EVs in a simple, hassle-free way helps to remove many of the perceived barriers our dealers and customers are concerned about.”

Initially, Ford’s strategy was based on optimistic forecasts that dealers would quickly recoup their investments as EV popularity surged. However, demand for Ford’s EVs has not grown as rapidly as anticipated. With the initial boom of wealthy early adopters largely satisfied, Ford now faces the challenge of appealing to a broader, more frugal customer base.

Ford dealers were among the first to signal concerns about the EV market slowdown. This feedback, combined with legal challenges from dealer associations and the high cost of certification, led Ford to reassess its approach.

Despite the program’s end, Ford dealers will still need to make some investments to support EV sales, but these will be significantly less burdensome. The company will no longer enforce the minimum $500,000 investment, allowing more dealers to participate in the EV market.

Ford’s change in course comes at a critical time as the company seeks to navigate the complex transition to EVs. The decision to make EVs available to all dealers aims to enhance customer accessibility and support the broader adoption of electric mobility. By lowering the entry barriers for dealers, Ford hopes to increase its EV sales and strengthen its position in the competitive automotive market.

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