Ford Unplugs Its Model e Dealership Certification Program

Ford Discontinues Certification Program Amid Dealer Pushback...

2024 Ford F-150 Lightning on fast chargers. (Ford).

Ford has canceled its Model e dealership certification program, effective July 1. The ambitious initiative aimed to separate electric vehicle (EV) sales from traditional combustion vehicle sales, but dealers faced strong opposition, ultimately leading to its discontinuation.

Background of the Model e Program – 

2024 Ford F-150 Lightning Flash. (Ford).

Launched on September 14, 2022, and officially started on January 1, 2023, the Model e program was designed to help Ford compete with EV startups. Dealers were required to invest in charging stations, enhance customer education, undergo specialized training, and adopt no-haggle pricing to sell Ford’s EVs. However, many dealers opposed these requirements, even filing lawsuits against Ford.

Program Details –

The Model e program was part of Ford’s strategic restructuring, which divided the company into three segments: Ford Blue Oval (traditional vehicles), Ford Pro (commercial vehicles), and Ford Model e (electric vehicles). To sell fully electric vehicles, dealers had to choose between two certification levels:

  1. Model e Certified Elite: Required installation of two high-powered DC fast chargers, one Level 2 charging station, and a public DC fast charger. These dealers had full sales and service capabilities.
  2. Model e Certified: Installing one DC fast charger must be available to the public, with limited sales capacity and a lower investment cost.

Dealers who opted out of the certification had the opportunity to reconsider in 2025, with the chance to start selling EVs again in 2027 after a three-year hiatus.

Dealer Response and Program Challenges – 

Ford initially set a tight deadline for dealers to decide, extending it from October 31, 2022, to December 2, 2022, after dealers voiced concerns. Approximately 1,920 franchises initially agreed to become Model e dealers, with 1,659 choosing the Certified Elite status and 261 opting for the Certified status. However, around 400 dealerships later decided against the Model e business model, leaving about 1,500 certified dealerships.

The certification requirements included special training, set EV pricing displayed on Ford’s main website, and enhanced customer service offerings. However, intense pushback and legal challenges from dealership associations significantly influenced Ford’s decision to terminate the program.

Implications of Ending the Model e Program –

2025 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally. (Ford).

By canceling the Model e certification, Ford dealerships can now sell electric vehicles without the previously mandated investments and requirements. This decision reflects a missed opportunity for Ford to standardize EV sales and service, potentially making their dealerships more competitive in the evolving automotive market.

Marin Gjaja, COO of Ford Model e, indicated that the decision was not solely due to dealer pushback and lawsuits. Nonetheless, it’s clear that dealer resistance influenced the move.

Future of Ford’s EV Strategy –

The discontinuation of the Model e program may impact Ford’s long-term EV strategy. As the automotive industry transitions to electric, a seamless, customer-friendly sales and service experience becomes critical. The original program addressed consumer dissatisfaction with the traditional dealership model, offering a more modern and transparent purchasing process.