A bipartisan group of Connecticut officials on Wednesday urged Ford Motor Company to pump the brakes on Friday to allow dealers across the country to opt out of costly new requirements for selling the company’s electric vehicle models.
Lawmakers from both parties and a representative of the Connecticut Automobile Dealers Association challenged Ford’s introduction of the new Model e program in a teleconference.
The program, part of the manufacturer’s recent restructuring, gives car dealers until Friday to decide whether they will make up to $1.2 million in infrastructure and other investments to qualify as Model e Certified or Model e Certified Elite dealers who can sell. electric vehicles.
Although Ford pushed back its original Oct. 31 deadline to Dec. 2 due to dealer concerns, state lawmakers said Wednesday that the manufacturer’s approach was still too aggressive and prompted complaints from dealers at franchises across Connecticut.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a former state attorney general, called Ford’s treatment of its dealers “nice” and said it may have violated state and federal laws.
“I am convinced that there is a case here that needs to be investigated,” Blumenthal said. “I will refer this case to other government agencies, including the Attorney General, but I think it should also be of interest to the Federal Trade Commission, as there may be a violation of its franchise rules here as well.”
The state’s current attorney general, William Tong, issued a statement read by New Haven Democrat Roland Lemar, co-chairman of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, calling on Ford to ensure that the burden of new electric vehicle infrastructure investments does not fall solely on local dealers.
Ford Motor Company did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.
At Wednesday’s press conference, several officials praised the automaker for choosing to move into selling electric vehicles. However, they took exception to their decision to issue a costly ultimatum to dealers.
Jeff Aiosa, legislative co-chairman of the Connecticut Automobile Dealers Association, said the program’s current structure would likely make it impossible for some smaller franchised Connecticut dealers to sell electric vehicles because of the cost of entry.
“Depending on how big your dealership is, you may never experience a return on investment because it’s a fixed price,” Aiosa said. “One point two million is the same price for a dealer that sells 100 cars a year compared to a dealership that sells three to four thousand vehicles a year. It’s a very tough program.”
Aiosa wasn’t sure how many of Connecticut’s 28 Ford dealerships would choose to participate in the program.
In some ways, Wednesday’s objections to Ford’s new program mirrored opposition to recent failed attempts by Tesla and other electric-only makers to seek an exemption from Connecticut’s requirement that car companies sell their products through franchised dealerships.
Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, said Ford is publicly trying to undermine franchised Connecticut dealers, who she said have supported Connecticut communities through jobs and auto service.
“The amount of investment required for our local dealers is amazing, absolutely staggering,” Somers said. “The amount of time it takes for them to read and respond is just outrageous. It’s unacceptable and is really just an invalid application.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle encouraged Ford to reconsider.
“I think we’re all urging Ford to post this meeting so they can drop those terms and start the conversation again,” Lemar said. “If they don’t, I can assure them from what I heard today that there will be consequences at both the state and federal level.”