An electric Ford truck is displayed during the Electrify Expo D.C. in Washington, D.C., on July 23, 2023.

Nathan Howard | Getty Images

Ford Motor is ending a controversial electric vehicle dealership program that initially asked store owners to invest upward of $1 million to sell EVs.

The “EV-certified” program was announced in September 2022 by Ford CEO Jim Farley amid high demand for the vehicles, low supplies and industry-wide optimism for all-electric cars and trucks. That optimism, however, has not panned out as expected.

EV sales for Ford and other automakers are growing but at a far slower pace than many expected. That’s led to automakers delaying or canceling future electric vehicles and investments.

“The world has changed,” Marin Gjaja, chief operating officer of Ford’s Model E electric vehicle business, said Thursday during a media briefing. “The growth has slowed down.”

Gjaja said the Model e Dealership Program, which included about half of Ford’s 2,800 U.S. dealers, “is being sunset” as the market undergoes changing conditions and amid conversations with dealers. The company had faced lawsuits from dealers over the program.

Instead, Ford will open EV sales to all of its dealers in an attempt to grow sales of its all-electric cars and trucks. 

“It allows us to open EV sales and service to more dealers,” Gjaja said. “We think it’s going to help us grow our sales.”

Dealers will need to make some investments for charging, training and other EV-related expenses, but not as much as they did under the prior program, which included expected investments of between $500,000 and $1.2 million.

Gjaja said those initial estimates were high. He said dealers who participated in the full program invested about $600,000 on average.

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