Illinois Dealers Put Brakes on Ford's High-Voltage Demands, EV Program Faces Resistance

Illinois Dealers Put Brakes on Ford's High-Voltage Demands, EV Program Faces ResistanceSource: Google Street View
Jo Marquez
Published on November 22, 2023

Those looking to drive Ford's electric vision forward hit a speed bump out in Illinois, where dealers threw a wrench in the automaker's pricey EV certification program. A ruling last week by the Illinois Motor Vehicle Review Board sided with 26 dealers who kicked up a storm over cost-intensive upgrades necessary to sell and service electric vehicles. These motor mavens argued the demands violated the state's franchise laws as per a detailed account by the Chicago Tribune.

Part of a national trend, the dealers balked at Ford's requirement for them to install fast chargers—with an electrifying price tag north of $1 million—and to send their staff to specialized training programs. Joe McMahon, the executive director of the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association, claimed the decision was a "home run," suggesting Ford's program could be, as they say, out of gas in Illinois. Ford, however, isn't tapping the brakes just yet on their Model e EV program, poised for an appeal according to statements made to the Chicago Tribune.

Despite the legal speedbumps in Illinois, Ford is switching gears, recently downshifting its dealer demands. The motoring giant announced halved training costs and decreased the number of obligatory chargers for dealers in both of its certification tiers. The adjustments come as the Ford brand felt a dip in dealer trust, trailing behind its competitors, AutoNews reported.

But the dealership discord and reduced requirements signal a broader issue: EV market momentum and consumer demand are powering down. While Ford has goals to electrify 50% of its sales by 2030, EVs are currently gathering dust on lots for days on end, signifying demand isn't quite surging as hoped. This sputtering trend is being seen despite various incentives at the federal and state levels to boost electric transitions as the Chicago Tribune highlighted.

With one eye on the legal challenges in other states like New York and Florida and another on a possible decline in profitability, Ford dealers nationwide are reevaluating their stance on the automaker's EV program. As the dust settles on the recent ruling, Ford remains steadfast, with a Ford spokesperson assuring that they stand firmly by their Model e EV program in a statement given to AutoNews. The company's adjustments to the program evidently strive to bridge the gap between dealer concerns and Ford's future-forward roadmap for electrification.