Ford has decided to give its dealers an extra month to decide whether they will opt in to the program to sell electric vehicles, which requires investments of up to $1.2 million. The October 31 deadline has been pushed back to December 2 after some dealers asked for more time to make a decision, Ford spokesman Marty Gunsberg said.
"We value our relationship with our dealers and have decided to provide additional time for dealers who have not yet decided or asked for more time," Gunsberg said in a statement to Automotive News. He declined to say how many dealers have already opted in, saying figures will be released by Ford after the enrollment period ends.
The new deadline more closely aligns with the December 15 deadline Lincoln dealers face for a similar program requiring up to $900,000 in investment. Retailers who sell both brands will be required to invest in each program, which would set them back up to $2.1 million.
Ford divides its EV dealership standards into two tiers with different investment levels in fast chargers and staff training. Dealers who choose the lower tier, which requires investments of up to $500,000, will be limited in the number of EVs they can sell.
Dealers who don't make the upgrades will get to keep their franchise but will be limited to selling Ford internal combustion engine vehicles and hybrids.
To meet the new sales standards, dealers will be required to set nonnegotiable prices for EVs. In addition, those who go for the lower-priced certification tier won't be allowed to carry any EVs in inventory. This means that their customers will have to order exactly what they want for later delivery.
Ford says each of its approximately 3,000 US dealers is free to choose whether to opt in to the EV sales standards, and no one will be forced to do so. Participating dealers will be certified to sell Ford electric vehicles from January 1, 2024, until the end of 2026. Those who don't opt in now will have another opportunity to be certified for EV sales starting in 2027.
Ford's EV sales cap has been criticized by some state dealer associations, who claim that it violates state laws. This week, a group of automotive trade association executives, representing associations in Virginia and 11 other southern states, asked Ford to "reconsider the Ford Model e program as it is currently described," on the grounds that it "includes unreasonable restrictions on dealer autonomy."