Some dealers are unhappy with changes to the Ford Model E program
Automakers are investing billions to make the move to electric vehicles, but that money doesn’t cover the extensive franchised dealer network in the United States. Training staff to sell EVs and upgrading equipment to service them is an expensive endeavor, and some dealers aren’t up to the effort. Late last year, Ford announced a tiered EV sales program for its dealers that required investments in facilities and training, but the automaker recently changed some of the rules, causing many dealers to leave the program in protest.
Ford initially reported that 1,920 dealers had agreed to its Model E program, which involves investments of between $500,000 and $1.2 million, but enrollment fell to 1,891 after the changes. The automaker removed some requirements for the lowest dealer tier, including ditching the 25-EV per year cap and loosening the requirement to operate a public charger 24/7. Ford is still satisfied with enrollment and said it would open another round of signups for the program starting in 2027.
Many dealers were already unhappy with Ford’s new rules. More than 30 state dealer associations have registered opposition to Model E, which also requires a change in vehicle sales practices. The automaker wants dealers to set no-haggle prices and offer remote pickup/delivery of vehicles for service. Dozens of dealers in North Carolina have filed a petition challenging Ford on the program. As Automotive News notes, it’s essentially a lawsuit since the state’s DMV commissioner is the legal authority on the issue.
Model E is part of Ford’s push to increase quality and improve its customer service model. The automaker has struggled with both, which presents significant challenges in its catch-up efforts with Tesla on EV sales. Ford sold more than 61,000 EVs last year, but it has a long way to go to reach Tesla, which holds around 65 percent of the EV market here.
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