Ford said 1,891 retailers are now enrolled in the Model e program, down 1.5 percent from the 1,920 that originally signed up. Enrollment in the most expensive Certified Elite tier fell by 53 to 1,606, while opt-ins for the lower-priced Certified tier increased by 24 to 285.
Most of the changes, reported in January by Automotive News, focused on easing restrictions placed on the lower-priced tier.
A Ford spokesperson said the company was still pleased with the figures.
“It is important that dealers have the option to do what they believe is best for their business and their customers for the 2024-2026 period,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “As we continue to scale our EV volumes, our second enrollment period will open up for 2027-2029.”
Among the changes: Ford said dealers no longer had to operate public electric vehicle chargers around the clock, and those in the Certified tier would not be capped at selling 25 EVs per year.
Some retailers remain concerned about the program, which has garnered opposition from more than 30 state dealer associations.
Meanwhile, a group of 46 Ford dealers in North Carolina this month filed a petition challenging the program with the state’s commissioner of the division of motor vehicles, following similar legal actions in New York and Illinois. The petition amounts to a lawsuit, since the commission is the legal authority that regulates such matters.
“The dealers waited to see what changes Ford would make to the Model e program at NADA, and unfortunately, those changes were insufficient to address these dealers’ concerns,” Shawn Mercer, an attorney at Bass Sox Mercer, which represents the dealers, told Automotive News. “It was not enough to address unlawful aspects of the program or to remove the valid concerns about excessive intrusion by Ford into dealer day-to-day operations.”
In the petition, the dealers allege the voluntary program is illegal since it would prohibit those who do not opt in from selling EVs in the future. The dealers also are not pleased with the various sales practices they would be required to implement if they join the program, including setting no-haggle prices and offering remote pickup and delivery.
“Through the EV program, Ford seeks to coerce dealers into expending huge sums of money unnecessarily in order to continue selling vehicles they are already authorized to sell,” the dealers wrote. “Ford’s EV program will serve to reduce the number of Ford dealers in North Carolina and further restrict consumer access to electric vehicles, particularly those citizens residing in parts of North Carolina outside of the largest cities.”