By Bradford Wernle, Crain News Service
DETROIT (Feb. 6, 2013) — More than 900 dealers, about a third of the Ford-brand dealer body, will be certified to sell Ford-brand plug-in vehicles by spring.
Ford Motor Co. said that number of EV Certified Dealers has grown from about 200 dealers in November and is ahead of where the Dearborn, Mich.-based auto maker projected it to be. EV Certified Dealers have to meet special certification requirements in order to be allowed to sell Ford-brand plug-in vehicles. Ford currently offers two: the Ford Focus Electric and C-Max Energi. A third plug-in, the Fusion Energi, goes on sale later this winter.
Ford attributed the spike to increased demand for the electrified vehicles.
"Research indicates that 60 percent of new-vehicle shoppers are considering hybrid vehicles. With this 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," C.J. O'Donnell, Ford electrified vehicle marketing manager, said in a statement.
To be certified, Ford dealers must install at least two on-site charging stations, including one in the customer parking area and another in the service department. Dealers must also keep at least one Focus Electric and C-Max Energi on hand for demonstrations. And 80 percent of sales consultants, sales managers, service managers and service advisers are required to take specialized training in vehicle electrification.
Ford said its market share of electrified vehicles increased from 3 percent in April 2012 to nearly 16 percent in December as its fleet of hybrids came on line. The Focus Electric, C-Max Energi, C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid are already on sale.
Ford launched its certified EV dealer program in February 2011 in 19 markets and expanded to 23 markets in September that year.
But not all is on the upswing for Ford and other car makers in sales of electrified vehicles.
On Feb. 2, the Detroit News reported sales of electrified vehicles are off to a disappointing start in 2013. Ford dropped the price of the Focus Electric $2,000 and is offering up to $10,750 off for three-year leases, the paper reported.
This report appeared in Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.