Ford, GM approaches for EV dealers are reshaping retail

Ford’s approach, though more flexible, has rankled dealer associations around the country that accuse the company of being unfair and violating state franchise laws. The company has gotten 32 letters from state associations, according to Ford’s dealer council chairman, and is working with the council to hammer out changes aimed at appeasing some of the concerns.

“I think we’re on a really good path right now,” Tim Hovik, the Arizona dealer who heads the council, told Automotive News. “I’ve listened to the different points that have been brought up and we’re working together with the company to make some adjustments, and I think we’re going to get there. … I think the state associations will be pleased with the direction.”

The changes would include narrowing the differences between the program’s two tiers, one of which limits EV sales in exchange for a reduced investment in charging equipment.

The brand is looking to change certain marketing-related benefits that “certified elite” dealerships would receive over those that select the cheaper “certified” tier. As of now, certified stores would not have their EVs listed on and would not receive EV demo units.

Hovik said Ford also is considering dialing back a requirement for dealers to offer round-the-clock public EV charging.

Finally, Ford may change how future EVs would be distributed. For now, those in the certified tier would be capped at selling 25 EVs per year, although Hovik said the sides are looking to move to a more equitable allocation formula akin to how current models are doled out today.

“I think the formula will end up being similar in numbers to what the cap is,” Hovik said, “but I do think adjusting the allocation formula could give dealers an opportunity to grow, which is really what we want.”

About 1,000 Ford dealers chose not to invest in the EV program; they can remain with the brand but will be limited to selling gasoline-powered and hybrid models. Ford will give those dealers another opportunity to join the program in 2027.

At Cadillac, more than one-third of its 875 dealers took a buyout the brand offered beginning in 2020, bringing the number of U.S. dealerships to about 560, officials have said. Offers generally ranged from $300,000 to $500,000.

The brand since has added three points in New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta, Cadillac spokesman Michael Albano said.

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