The future is electric, and Ford is keen to bring its vast dealership network along for the journey. The automaker's recent dealer meetings in Las Vegas outlined a plan for dealers to become certified in EV sales, with the goal of becoming more EV friendly for buyers with charging capabilities, transparent pricing, and extensive sales training. But it requires hefty investments on the dealer side, and a decision must be made soon.
At this point, you likely have two questions in mind: How much, and how long? Our colleagues at InsideEVs attended the event and got the scoop on all the details, including a presentation by Ford CEO Jim Farley on how the company and its network of nearly 3,000 dealers can evolve for EV sales.
At a minimum, Ford estimates a $500,000 investment from dealers to upgrade facilities, but that can expand to $1.5 million for locations that opt for the highest possible EV certification. These are hefty numbers, and dealers only have until October 31 to make a decision. However, there's a bit more to it than that.
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For starters, dealers are not required to become EV certified. They can soldier on as-is, but as of January 1, 2024, they will not be able to sell any Ford electric vehicles like the Mustang Mach-E. Also, the October 31 deadline isn't a one-and-done deal. Should dealers decide later to make the EV investment, another window will open in 2025 with EV sales eligibility beginning in 2027. In theory, Ford will have many more EVs in its portfolio by then, which could convince more locations to become certified versus making the investments now. Of course, the investment costs will likely increase as time goes by.
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Dealers that choose the EV investment now will have two certification options: Model E Certified, or Model E Elite Certified. As you can guess, going elite is the most expensive option, requiring dealers to install at least two DC fast chargers and one level 2 charger. Additionally, at least one DC fast charger must be available for public use. Model E Certified dealers only need a single DC fast charger, also available to the public. But at this level, there will be a limit to how many EVs the dealer can sell.
The infrastructure upgrades should constitute a bulk of the cost, but training and establishing transparent online sales through the dealership are also part of the plan. It's all designed to help Ford be more cost-competitive with Tesla, something Farley mentioned during the dealer event.
"We've been studying Tesla closely, especially with how their brand has scaled with units and operations in Norway," said Farley. "And what we've noticed is that they have almost 1,200 employees now, and they have very much dealer-like facilities. And we think that's the direction they'll go as they scale their operations in the United States."
For a deeper dive into the details of Ford's EV sales plan, check out the comprehensive report at InsideEVs.