Earlier this year, Ford made dramatic changes to its structure and future plans. One of the adjustments was to institute a new certification program specifically for dealers that want to sell electric vehicles. Now, dealer association groups in more than a dozen states are pushing back against the blue oval brand saying that the certification program is unfair to them.
The ‘Model e’ certification program is intended to ensure that any Ford dealer that sells EVs is properly equipped to do so. Dealers will have to spend at least $500,000 and up to $1.2 million to enroll. Those companies will benefit though because, in 2024, they’ll be the only Ford dealers that can sell new electric vehicles from the brand.
Dealers won’t be forced to sign up and should they hold out, they’ll have another chance to join the program in 2027. Originally, Ford set October 31 as the date by which all partners needed to decide which option they’d choose. Just this week, the automaker pushed that date back to December 2 to give dealers more time. According to John Devlin, CEO of the Pennsylvania Automotive Association, the program “violates multiple provisions of Pennsylvania law.”
Read: Ford Dealers Now Have Until Dec. 2 To Decide If They’ll Invest Up To $1.2 M On EVs
Members of the Southern Automotive Trade Association Executives, which represents 12 state dealer associations, say that it “fails to make all vehicle models available to dealers on comparable terms and fails to allocate equitable quantities of EVs to Ford franchised dealers relative to their assigned market areas.”
It sounds as though Ford dealers don’t want to miss out on the sweet margin associated with highly-desirable EVs, but also don’t want to pony up the cash to join the program.
Virginia “passed laws years ago to make it abundantly clear that if you’re a dealer, then you’re entitled to your fair share of mix and quality as any other dealer is of your size,” said Don Hall, CEO of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association.
Robert Glaser, president of the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, went even further saying “We believe if you’re a Ford dealer, you’re a Ford dealer… You should be able to sell all the products Ford makes.”
“We appreciate that Ford wants to develop an EV charging network across the country; we just don’t think it should be at our expense,” Glaser said. “It should be market-driven rather than a mandate.”
For its part, Ford says that it worked with dealers to create the program. “Ford engaged with and listened to around 400 dealers in developing the program, which provides flexibility both in terms of enrollment level and timing,” a spokesperson said to Auto News. It also clarified that the Model e program is legal and it’s agreed to continue working with dealers to continue refining it.