Ford CT dealers issue an ultimatum to electric vehicles | Rare Techy


After selling Ford cars for almost four decades, Rob Lombardi has until Friday to decide whether his Barkhamsted dealership will follow the famous American carmaker into the frontier of the electric vehicle market.

Lombardi is no stranger to electric vehicles, having sold Ford’s first all-electric model dating back to 2011 and even installed two charging stations on his lot.

Now, however, the company has given Lombardi and its other franchised dealers across the country the option to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in new high-capacity chargers and agree to forego all bargaining in favor of fixed prices for electric vehicles. to continue selling Ford’s growing electric lineup, including the long-awaited F-150 Lighting. Dealers who refuse to comply with these requirements will only sell traditional gas engine models.

“As a dealer, I bleed blue, everything I do is with Ford Motor Company,” Lombard said. “This particular program got us dealers up and running again, and now it’s up to us to think about it and make our own decision.”

The ultimatum follows Ford’s decision earlier this year to split into two separate companies: one focused on internal combustion engines and the other, the Model e program, dedicated solely to electric vehicles. In September, the company announced that starting in 2024, it will require all dealers selling electric vehicles through the Model e program to adopt specific requirements and investments in charging infrastructure, according to electric market website Inside EVs.

At the most basic level, Ford requires dealers to invest about $500,000 for at least one new charging station, though those dealers are limited in how many electric cars they can sell. A full commitment with no sales restrictions requires an investment of up to $1.2 million.

Ford initially gave dealers until the end of October to decide whether to commit to the program or stop selling electric vehicles, before relenting and giving dealers five extra weeks until Dec. 2 to make a decision.

Ford’s luxury brand Lincoln has given its dealers until December 15 to decide on similar commitments. Dealers who withdraw from the electric vehicle market will be allowed to reconsider this decision from 2026.

Connecticut’s 28 Ford dealerships have mixed feelings about what to do with Ford’s ultimatum, said Jeff Aiosa, a lobbyist for the Connecticut Automobile Dealers Association, which represents franchisees.

While a $1.2 million investment may prove worthwhile for a dealership that sells thousands of cars each year, Aiosa said the same requirements may simply be out of reach for smaller dealers that sell close to 100 vehicles a year.

“The consensus is that there are probably some who feel they have to because they don’t want to be on the wrong side of their manufacturer,” Aiosa said. “There are others who are very concerned about investing and don’t see the economy in their favor.”

Ford did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

At a news conference Wednesday, several state lawmakers called Ford’s deadline “arbitrary” and “aggressive” and called on the automaker to reverse course by working with its franchisees to ensure they can bear the costs of sales and continuing sales. servicing of electric vehicles.

Others compared the company’s actions to emerging electric rivals like Tesla and Rivian, which have bypassed the franchise model entirely to sell directly to customers — though not in Connecticut, where such direct sales are still illegal.

“Ford is Ford because of our dealers, because our dealers have worked with them and sold their cars and been there as a right hand for years and years,” said state Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton. “Our dealers have grown and helped make Ford what they are today.”

Ford’s ultimatum could also violate Connecticut’s franchise law, as well as other state and federal laws, warned U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a former attorney general, who said Wednesday he would call on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. Ford’s action.

In a statement Wednesday, Connecticut’s current attorney general, William Tong, urged Ford to “listen to the genuine concerns raised by these dealers” about the cost of infrastructure investments related to the Model e program.

A spokesman for Tong said the attorney general had not contacted counterparts in other states as of Wednesday to discuss possible legal action if Ford refuses to change course.

Lombard told CT Insider on Wednesday that he has not yet decided whether to commit to EV sales, adding that he still hopes Ford will come to the table to work with its dealers on a better solution.

Among his concerns, Lombard said, is whether supply chain issues will hinder Ford’s ability to produce enough electric cars for dealers to recoup their investments. He added that it has not yet been clarified whether his existing charging stations will satisfy the company’s requirements and help reduce some of his costs.

Meanwhile, Aiosa said other dealers in the state have taken note of Ford’s move, which he said will have a broader impact as other legacy automakers move into the electric market.

“This is obviously something that affects not only Ford dealers, but other dealers from other manufacturers as well,” Aiosa said. “If Ford can do it, what’s to stop Chevrolet or Stellantis or Chrysler or any other manufacturer from doing the same thing?”


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