While the autosphere watches the “he said, he said” spat that is luxury EV automaker Telsa versus the venerable New York Times, other automakers are ramping up their more affordable electrified vehicles (e.g., EVs and plug-in electric hybrids) for the rest of the masses.
Ford, back in February 2011, planned a phased roll out approach to support its electrified vehicles, which would number five, over the coming years. Phase one of the EV Certified Ford dealer program would focus on 19 key marketplaces like Los Angeles, Ca., where projected sales of such vehicles would be high; then expand to 23 additional markets during phase two.
Dealerships involved in Ford’s certification process had to meet various requirements, including the installation at least two EV charging stations on their lot, and intensive product training for their sales and service staff. Other requirements included signage around the dealership and having test vehicles like the Ford Focus Electric in the showroom at all times.
The original plan has now gone out the window, or – more accurately – been supercharged. The 200 participating Ford dealerships back in November 2012 has now more than quadrupled to 900 dealerships total by this spring. The automaker points to the strong demand of its 2013 Ford Fusion and C-MAX Energi plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV) models, which went on sale late last year, as well as sales of the Ford Focus EV, which arrived at dealerships in early 2012.
The company says its total EV, hybrid, and PHEV marketshare jumped to nearly 16 percent in December of last year, right behind electrified vehicle leader Toyota. “Research indicates that 60 percent of new vehicle shoppers are considering hybrid products,” states C.J. O’Donnell, marketing for the Ford Electrified Vehicle Marketing. “With the demand for more fuel efficient vehicles, early sales of Ford’s five electrified vehicles has been phenomenal, creating a tremendous amount of excitement among our dealers.”
The 900 dealerships represent roughly a third of Ford’s total dealership network. With so many dealerships clamoring for electrified vehicles, the EV Certified Ford dealer program is only required for dealerships planning to sell the Focus Electric, Fusion Energi, and C-MAX Energi. Dealerships selling the Ford Fusion and C-Max hybrids do not require certification. Finally, Ford has dropped the phased rollouts. Now Ford dealerships in all 50 states may sell the various EVs and electrified vehicles as soon as they meet the requirements.