During deliberations over the evolution of Ford Motor Co.'s franchise dealership model, its retailers secured a big win: choice.
The automaker wants its dealers to invest heavily in battery-electric vehicles and redefine how they sell those products as it seeks an edge over Tesla and other newcomers that sell directly from factory to consumer. After months of meetings with its dealer council, including breakout discussions with rural dealers, the two sides struck a compromise that Ford laid out to dealers who gathered in Las Vegas last week.
Getting the right to sell Ford EVs beyond next year won't be cheap — a seven-figure investment in many cases. But it will be optional.
Anyone not ready to fully commit to electrification can gain the ability to sell a couple of EVs a month by spending less money upfront, an alternative devised by the dealer council that the company agreed to adopt. Those who aren't ready to invest at all can continue to sell internal combustion vehicles for the foreseeable future.
Even as it calls for change, Ford hopes to continue making money and winning over customers with new gasoline-powered offerings such as the seventh-generation Mustang revealed last week in Detroit. Ford showed that it's still willing to flex its internal combustion muscles with the surprise announcement of a new Mustang performance series called Dark Horse.