Upgrading Ford's dealer network won't be cheap.
Ford has confirmed to CNBC that 65% of its US dealerships have decided to sell EVs. Of that 65%, roughly 80% have opted for the highest level of EV certification.
Dealers have to pay between $500,000 and $1.2 million to become certified, which will allow them to sell models like the Mustang Mach-E, F-150 Lightning, and e-Transit. The remaining 35% are likely those pushing back against this new investment program with the help of dealer associations.
There are currently two tiers available to Ford dealers: Model e Certified Elite and Model e Certified. To get certified, dealers will have to invest between $500,000 to $1.2 million, depending on the location and what said dealer requires in terms of hardware.
Elite certification comes with an upfront cost of roughly $900,000. Most dealers likely chose this option because it comes with a higher allocation of sought-after EV models.
Investing is not a must, however. Dealers also have the lower tier option, which should cost somewhere in the $500k region. Model e Certified dealers will have one public-facing fast charger. While these dealers can sell EVs, they won't receive inventory or demonstration models.
An even cheaper certification will become available in 2026, just in time for the second round of certificates. Dealers that don't want to commit right now can invest and reapply in 2027. This may be the smart move for dealers outside high EV volume areas. Keep an eye on dealers who invest and then make a call four years later.
"We think that the EV adoption in the U.S. will take time, so we wanted to give dealers a chance to come back," said Farley.
Ford has had a complicated relationship with dealers over the last two years. Farley waged a battle against them when it became clear markups were hurting the brand, specifically in relation to the Bronco. Farley's latest statements also read as a bit of a warning. He specifically mentioned that direct sales are thousands of dollars cheaper than the traditional dealer system.
However, the automaker still needs dealers despite Ford inching ever closer to at least a partial direct-to-consumer model. Ford also caught some flak from dealers when it split its EV business.
The introduction of the Model e division ruffled some feathers, and Farley told dealers to step up while the new brand was being introduced.