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Ford Asked Dealers to Spend Big Money to Sell EVs. Now It’s Pumping the Brakes

Ford has advised dealers to pause their investments while the automaker tweaks its EV sales certification program.
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Dealerships have to adapt to electric vehicles just as much, if not more so, than customers. Not only do salespeople need to learn how to educate customers on EVs, but techs need to learn to repair them, and the dealers need to be able to charge them. Many dealers go through expensive overhauls to get themselves ready for upcoming EV models. However, as Ford dealerships are currently undergoing such changes, the Blue Oval is telling them to hold on just a minute.

Ford is planning to meet with its dealer council in early June to update its requirements for EV retail, following feedback from previous meetings.

“We don’t want them to make any decisions between now and the middle of June when you can maybe have a more informed decision-making process based off what we work out with council in the next few weeks,” Andrew Frick, president of Ford Blue, the automaker’s EV division, told Automotive News. “There’s a lot that we’ll be reviewing.”

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Late last year, dealerships expressed their lack of trust in the brand’s build quality and pricing, as well as the plateauing market for EVs at large. During the previous 11 meetings, all of which Ford CEO Jim Farley attended, breakout tables were set up for the dealers to rotate through, expressing their concerns with the brand openly. Everything from floorplan assistance to electric car standards, to Ford Credit changes were discussed, as Ford tries to regain its dealers’ trust through open communication.

“What was great is that we had candid conversations around every aspect of the business,” said Frick. “Nothing was off limits.” He also said 93 percent of dealers left the meetings with more trust in the brand than before.

Dealers have been asked to invest tons of money into meeting the requirements for EV sales, with some paying up to $1.2 million. That’s difficult to do without any indication that such an investment will bear fruit, and EV stock’s piled up at times. After the upcoming meeting, perhaps dealers will walk away feeling better about making that call.

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