American automaker Ford, which called on its dealership network to embark on a “sustainable expansion journey” in support of its EV transformation, has witnessed a significant drop in enrollment. Approximately one year ago, over two-thirds of dealers, totaling 1,920, joined Ford's program. However, recent reports reveal that nearly 400 dealers have exited the initiative, marking a shift in dealer participation.
Originally, Ford urged its dealers to align with the company's “revolutionary” EV plans, with 1,659 dealers opting for the higher-tier “Certified Elite” level, while 261 chose the “Certified” tier. However, challenges and criticisms emerged, leading to adjustments in the program's requirements, including a reduction in the number of L2 chargers, an extended installation deadline, and a 50% cut in dealer training costs to approximately $20,000.
Despite these modifications, Ford clarified that the changes were related to shifts in the market, not a response to the legal challenges faced in Illinois, where 26 dealers contended that Ford's EV program violated state laws. Ford plans to appeal the decision and maintains its commitment to the voluntary Model e program, emphasizing its aim to provide a top-notch EV customer experience.
In January, Ford announced a further easing of restrictions, allowing dealers to change tiers or opt-out of the program. The company is also set to establish “retail replenishment centers” to facilitate Certified Elite dealers in replenishing stock, thereby enhancing efficiency and expediting the delivery process for EV customers.
Despite the initial enthusiasm and engagement of over 1,900 dealers in December, Ford now reports that enrollment in its EV dealer program has dwindled to around 1,550, constituting approximately 53% of its dealership network.