Ford's ambitious shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) is encountering hurdles, with reports indicating a significant portion of its U.S. dealership network opting out of the automaker's aggressive EV push. As per recent information, approximately half of Ford's dealerships have chosen to exclusively focus on combustion-powered and hybrid cars in 2024, marking a deviation from the anticipated support for the company's “Model e” program.
CEO Jim Farley had previously announced that Ford had secured commitments from about two-thirds of its dealerships for the Model e initiative. However, recent figures reveal that only 50% of Ford's 3,100 dealerships have enrolled in the EV program. This leaves around 1,550 dealerships without access to Ford's electric offerings, according to Ford spokesperson Marty Gunsberg in a statement to the Detroit Free Press.
Gunsberg acknowledged the varied adoption rates of EVs across the country and emphasized that Ford believes its dealers are best equipped to understand their local markets. The spokesperson noted that dealer enrollments for 2024 stand at just over 50%, ensuring that 86% of the population resides within 20 miles of a Ford dealership capable of selling and servicing Ford EVs. Additionally, Gunsberg mentioned that some dealers had withdrawn from the Model e program.
Dealers choosing to participate in the Model e program faced significant financial commitments, initially requiring investments ranging from $500,000 to $1.2 million for EV charging infrastructure. This requirement, aimed at dealers selling EVs, led to notable backlash and even legal action. Ford subsequently revised its approach, reducing the mandatory number of charging stations and lowering associated costs.
This response from Ford's dealers appears to echo a broader industry trend, as recent reports suggest that General Motors, Ford's primary rival, is grappling with a similar scenario involving its Buick brand. Nearly half of Buick dealerships, totaling about 1,000, have reportedly opted out of GM's all-electric plans, opting to sever ties with the automaker. The evolving dynamics underscore the challenges both Ford and General Motors face in steering their dealer networks towards a comprehensive embrace of electric mobility.