As the automotive industry accelerates towards an electrified future, a divide is emerging among Ford dealerships across the United States. Approximately half of Ford dealers, totaling 1,550, have opted to continue selling hybrid and internal combustion engine vehicles exclusively in 2024, deferring their decision on making substantial investments to embrace electric vehicles (EVs).
Ford’s strategy to propel EV adoption involves certifying dealerships through the Model e Program, but this initiative has faced challenges. Despite efforts to incentivize dealers, the enrollment for the 2024 program has stabilized at just over 50% of the network. Despite the low numbers, Ford assures that 86% of the population remains within 20 miles of a certified dealership capable of selling and servicing a Ford EV, reports the Detroit Free Press.
One significant hurdle for dealers has been the investment required to meet Ford’s EV standards. The certification programs can cost dealers upwards of $1 million, including the installation of DC fast-chargers and staff training. This financial commitment has led to resistance, triggering lawsuits and disputes, such as the recent ruling in favor of an Illinois dealership group claiming that Ford’s program violated state laws.
Ford is not alone however as General Motors has also faced challenges, with around half of Buick dealers opting for buyouts instead of investing in EV infrastructure. Both Ford and GM have mandated substantial investments in charging stations and other upgrades for dealerships to sell and service EVs.
Along with dealers hesitant to embrace EVs, Ford also recently decided to scale back production of the F-150 Lightning, part of a broader decision by the company to postpone a $12 billion investment in EV manufacturing.