Ford Dealers Fight Model E Sales Plans
Ford's plan to divide its dealers by type of combustion system -- Ford Blue for internal-combustion vehicles, Ford Pro for commercial, and Ford Model E for battery-electric vehicles -- has hit a snag.
At the annual dealer conference in Las Vegas, held back in September, Ford said it would have two Model E tiers: Model E Certified and Model E Certified Elite. Dealers had until Oct. 31 to decide which one they wanted to join, with the plan formally commencing on Jan. 1, 2024. Now, Ford has pushed the decision day back to Dec. 2 after dealers balked.
According to Automotive News, dealers are overall supportive of Ford's plans to sell EVs, but unhappy with the tiered system.
This is because Ford is requiring dealers to install EV chargers. Stores in the Certified tier are being asked to fork over a cool half-million dollars to install at least one DC fast charger that would put out at least 120 kW of juice and be publicly available. Certified Elite dealers would be asked to shell out $1.2 million bucks for two DC fast chargers that would be part of the Blue Oval network. Dealers are also unhappy with Ford because they won't be able to keep their allotted 25 EVs per year on the showroom floor, and because the company is insisting on no-haggle pricing.
Ford head honcho Jim Farley also wants dealers to try to save $2K in savings per vehicle so that the company's profit margins are closer to what Tesla sees.
Dealers, of course, see this as taking money out of their pockets.
Ford pushes back by saying it worked with dealers on the tiers and even created the lower tier specifically because of dealer feedback. But now that dealers are weighing cost against potential gain, they've started to worry the gain won't be worth it.
They're also concerned about franchise laws -- some, for example, are arguing that the 25-vehicle cap isn't allowed in their state. A few others seem to think that Ford shouldn't split up its sales by combustion type.
Ford, of course, says the program is legal.
Your author's take is that while it does seem odd for Ford to split EV sales off from sales of ICE vehicles -- and why do EV buyers get Certified program perks like loaner cars when their vehicles are in for service, while ICE customers might not? -- dealers are also, of course, going to look out for their own pocketbooks out of pure self-interest. So some pushback isn't shocking, and the OEM and its dealer group will have to work together to make this new program work. Oh, and Ford may have to assuage some local lawmakers, too.
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Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.
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