The majority of Ford’s U.S. dealerships have decided to plug in to the automaker’s electric future, Ford CEO Jim Farley said during Monday’s Automotive News Congress.
During its annual dealer meeting in September, Ford told its dealers that individual stores will need to invest up to $1.2 million in upgrades to continue selling Ford EVs.
Dealers had the choice of Certified and Certified Elite upgrades, which Ford estimated at the time would cost about $500,000 for Certified and between $1 million and $1.2 million for Certified Elite. Dealers also had to agree to non-negotiable pricing.
Farley has revealed that 1,659 stores chose the Certified Elite option, while 261 chose the Certified option, representing close to two thirds of the automaker’s roughly 3,000 stores in the country.
Farley also revealed that those dealers still sitting on the fence will have another option to opt in to Ford’s electric future in 2025, acknowledging that the electric transition will take time.
Ford has offered a similar ultimatum to its Lincoln dealers, though Farley didn’t mention the take-up rate among the luxury division’s stores.
During the Automotive News Congress, Farley also mentioned Ford’s plan to let customers order vehicles directly from the automaker online, thus circumventing dealerships, similar to the direct sales model made popular by Tesla. He said the future of the current franchise model hangs in the balance.
Pretty high stakes for the automaker’s pivot to EVs with its retail network, Farley says:
“The future of the franchise system hangs in the balance here.”
— Automotive News (@Automotive_News) December 5, 2022
General Motors offered buyouts to Cadillac dealers that didn’t want to get onboard with that brand’s EV shift, with about one-third opting to give up their franchises rather than sell EVs, which would also require some level of added investment. GM is offering Buick dealers buyouts as well, with both brands expected to be all-electric by the end of the decade.