Selling electric vehicles will not come without a cost for Ford dealers.
The automaker has outlined a series of requirements dealers must meet before selling its EVs. These include setting no-haggle prices and investing over $1.2 million in upgrades, including charging infrastructure, according to Automotive News.
Ford framed the investments for the automaker as necessary to remain competitive against direct-sale competitors, such as Tesla, at a conference in Las Vegas this week.
The automaker gave dealers until Oct. 31 to opt into one of two EV certification tiers. The higher tier will cost dealers $900,000 up front. The benefits of the higher tier include more EVs to sell and “elite” certification.
The automaker will only allow dealers who opt out of these programs to sell the company’s legacy internal combustion engine and hybrid vehicles.
The cash outlay will be spent on dealership DC fast chargers, one of which must be accessible to customers.
Installing EV chargers comes at high expense. A public Level 2 charger can cost around $2,000 but a DC fast charger of 150kW or more can have a $100,000 to $250,000 price tag. Currently, only a few dozen of the automaker’s nearly 3,000 US dealers have high-speed chargers.
The automaker also urged that dealers cut up to $2,000 from the cost of delivering an EV to a customer, also to help the automaker better compete with Tesla.
Dealers also learned EV prices were to be non-negotiable and that dealers could not carry plug-in vehicles in inventory.
“We’re betting on the dealers. We will not go direct. But we need to specialize,” CEO Jim Farley told reporters Tuesday after briefing dealers about the plans. “The main message I have for the dealers, which I’ve never said before, because I didn’t believe it was true, is that you could be the most valuable franchise in our industry.”
Ford has no plans to follow General Motors brands like Cadillac and Buick in offering buyouts to dealers who don’t want to make investments to sell EVs.
“We want them to have the choice,” Marin Gjaja, chief customer officer of Ford’s Model e electric vehicle business, told CNBC.