29 Ford dealers chose to drop out of the Blue Oval's strict EV program.
Several Ford dealerships have decided not to proceed with Ford's Model e program which involves different tiers of requirements – and a corresponding investment – to continue selling EVs. Originally, 1,920 dealers enrolled in the program, but that number has dropped to 1,891 as of the end of February, reports Automotive News.
Ford eased some restrictions following early criticisms of the program, but some dealers remain disgruntled by the requirements. 46 dealers in North Carolina alone have filed a petition to challenge the Model e program, which has been described as unlawful in certain aspects.
Considering that Ford is currently the second-largest EV brand in America with popular models like the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning, dealers not enrolled in the program will be at a distinct disadvantage.
“Through the EV program, Ford seeks to coerce dealers into expending huge sums of money unnecessarily in order to continue selling vehicles they are already authorized to sell,” said the dealers in the petition. “Ford’s EV program will serve to reduce the number of Ford dealers in North Carolina and further restrict consumer access to electric vehicles, particularly those citizens residing in parts of North Carolina outside of the largest cities.”
Furthermore, dealers are unhappy with some of the required sales practices under the program. That includes providing remote pickup and delivery, along with setting no-haggle prices. Ford’s crackdown on exorbitant markups for new EVs is, of course, a win for the consumer. But that won't matter if you can't buy an EV at all because your chosen dealer hasn't agreed to the terms of the Model e program.
Under the program, dealers have to pay between $500,000 and $1.2 million to become EV-certified. The higher certification costs a lot more but will ensure that these dealerships get a higher allocation of the most popular EVs.
Earlier this year, Ford tweaked some of the dealer EV rules, including the elimination of an annual EV sales cap for certain dealers and also reducing training costs. While enrollment in the cheaper Certified tier increased by 24 dealers, it's the Certified Elite tier that fell by 53 dealers. Clearly, many dealers feel the changes haven't gone far enough.
“The dealers wanted to see what changes Ford would make to the Model e program at NADA [National Automobile Dealers Association], and unfortunately, those changes were insufficient to address these dealers' concerns,” said Shawn Mercer, an attorney representing the dealers. “It was not enough to address unlawful aspects of the program or to remove the valid concerns about excessive intrusion by Ford into dealer day-to-day operations.”
Dealers that do not enroll for the current program that covers the 2024-2026 period stand to lose out on two years of sales in which EV sales are expected to increase dramatically. The second enrollment period only opens up for the 2027-2029 period. A Ford spokesperson said that the company is still pleased with the number of dealers that had signed up while adding that “it is important that dealers have the option to do what they believe is best for their business and their customers.”
We can't see how the inability to sell an EV at some dealerships benefits the customer in any way, but Ford has made the requirements clear and seems unlikely to budge. But with over 30 state dealer associations opposing the Model e program, the Blue Oval may be compelled to ease some requirements again in the near future. Then again, if Ford stays put and EVs take off, dealers could come running back to these certification programs.
Keyword: Buying A Ford EV From Your Closest Dealer May Not Be Possible