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Ford abandons dealership EV program after months of indecisiveness

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Ford Motor Co. rolled back requirements for its dealership electric vehicle (EV) certification program last year, then it paused the program last month and now it is scrapping the program altogether. 

Starting July 1, all U.S. Ford dealers will be eligible to sell EVs, according to The Detroit News. The decision came after Ford completed a dealership tour in recent months. The company heard from more than 1,000 dealerships during 11 meetings. 

Marin Gjaja, Ford’s Model e EV business division chief operating officer, told The Detroit News that the program was introduced amid a spike in demand for EVs during the pandemic. He said EV sales haven’t grown as quickly as expected as customers remain concerned about their price, access to charging stations, and how an EV would change their lifestyle.

“We’re getting into the tough innings,” Gjaja told the newspaper. “We’re getting into the early majority customer who isn’t in it just for technology and willing to pay a premium. They want a practical, usable vehicle. They have questions they need to really understand the value for them. And it’s just a very different sale. …We need Ford and our dealers pulling together to help bring the market along.”

Ford told dealerships in December 2022 that they’d be required to invest in training and charging stations to qualify for certification to sell EVs. Just short of a year later, Ford reduced the number of charging stations the dealerships would need for each certification level. Dealerships were given a June 30 deadline to meet the requirements for the program

The November changes reduced the number of Level 2 chargers from five to two for dealerships that want to be “certified,” the article says. A “certified elite” program was reduced to require three instead of five chargers. The certified elite program originally required a fast charger by 2026 but that was removed.

Level 2 chargers convert AC to DC using a converter in the EV, while with a fast charger, the conversion happens in the charging station to supply power and charge vehicles faster.

About two-thirds, or 1,920, of dealerships had signed up for the EV charging program as of late last year, the company reported, according to The Verge. 

The article says a majority (1,650) of the dealerships that signed up for the program opted to be certified elite. 

Originally, the program limited the number of EVs a dealership was authorized to sell to 25 if they opted for just being certified, according to the Verge

While the program has been sunset, Ford is still making some demands of dealers who sell EVs. 

The Detroit News says Ford is now requiring dealers to install two Level 2 charging stations by March 31. Dealers also will be required to train their staff on EVs. 

“We want to make sure our dealers and our customers are safe and secure,”  Gjaja says in the article. “There’s some need to make sure there’s proper training both for sales consultants and for service people if they’re going to work on EVs or sell EVs.”

Gjaja said the charging stations cost about $10,000 each with installation. 

Ford expects that by allowing all dealerships to offer EVs sales will go up, the article says. It says Ford EV sales are up by 88% so far this year. 

Ford has taken other noticeable steps back from EVs recently.

Bloomberg recently reported the company is losing up to $100,000 per EV and is cutting orders from battery suppliers.

Bloomberg also reported that Ford planned to reduce spending by $12 billion on battery-powered models with EV losses forecast at up to $5.5 billion this year. 

Ford has delayed the launch of a battery plant it planned to build with South Korean manufacturer SK in Kentucky, along with pausing construction of a battery plant in West Michigan’s Marshall, according to the November Detroit News article. 

The company also shifted two-thirds of its F-150 Lightning factory workforce to other projects in March, according to The Detroit Free Press

“There’s always a learning curve with the new technology, and introducing EVs in a simple, hassle-free way helps remove any of the perceived barriers, whether it’s for our dealers or customers and the concerns that they have,” Gjaja told The Detroit News.


Photo courtesy of gopixa/iStock

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