Only Half of Ford Dealers Want to Sell EVs as Adoption Slows
Only Half of Ford Dealers Want to Sell EVs as Adoption Slows

By Tom Ozimek

Just over half of all Ford dealers have opted to sell electric vehicles (EV) in 2024, down from roughly two-thirds that expressed willingness to do so around the same time last year, which comes as EV enthusiasm appears to be cooling.

Around 1,550 Ford dealers, or just over 50 percent of the brand’s entire dealership network, have opted to sell EVs in 2024, Ford spokesman Martin Gunsberg told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

About a year ago, Ford CEO Jim Farley said that two-thirds of Ford dealers were committed to selling EVs, according to Detroit Free Press, which reported that 1,920 dealers had pledged to go all-in on Ford’s voluntary EV program.

“EV adoption rates vary across the country,” Mr. Gunsberg told The Epoch Tims. “As dealers have completed their own due diligence in their local markets, dealer enrollments for 2024 entry have stabilized at just over 50 percent of the network (around 1,550 dealers).”

Mr. Gunsberg added that this enrollment level puts 86 percent of the population within 20 miles of a Ford dealership capable of selling and servicing an EV manufactured by Ford.

The other half of Ford’s approximately 3,000 dealers are sticking with internal combustion engines and hybrids.

“When it comes to Ford’s voluntary EV Program, Ford Dealers have a choice of two enrollment levels and two enrollment entry points (2024 and 2027). If a dealer chooses not to participate in the EV Program, they can continue to sell ICE and hybrid vehicles,” Mr. Gunsberg explained.

The latest data suggests waning enthusiasm among dealers to carry EVs. Part of the reason could be that Ford has required dealers who want to offer Ford EVs to make large investments, including in DC fast chargers that allow each sales lot to double as a charging station for owners.Another factor could be a slowdown in EV sales after an initial wave of adoption enthusiasm amid a lack of charging infrastructure, reliability issues, and persistent concern about “range anxiety,” which is the fear that an EV will run out of power and leave drivers stranded with no chargers around for miles and miles.

Waning EV Demand

While EV sales in the United States hit a record 313,086 in the third quarter of 2023, many carmakers are sounding the alarm, saying that demand isn’t keeping up with expectations, forcing them to scale back some EV expansion plans.

Honda and General Motors announced recently that they were scrapping a $5 billion plan to develop EVs together, while GM said that it was slowing its electrification strategy.

GM Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson said during an Oct. 24 earnings call with reporters that the company is “moderating the acceleration of EV production to protect our pricing, adjust to slower near-term growth in demand and implement engineering changes that will bolster profits.”

In November, Ford said it was cutting its investment in EVs, scaling back the production capacity of a battery factory (and cutting 800 jobs there).

Ford said in October that it would cut future EV investments by $12 billion compared with previous plans.

In July, during Ford’s second-quarter earnings briefing, the company’s chief executive said Ford would slow the ramp-up of money-losing EVs and shift investment to Ford’s commercial vehicle unit, citing plans to quadruple sales of gas-electric hybrids over the next five years.

Like many of its competitors, Ford is “trying to find the balance between price, margin, and EV demand,” Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said at the briefing. For consumers, Mr. Farley added, “affordability is an issue.”

Range Anxiety

A key worry among Americans considering switching to an EV is range anxiety, which is the fear of driving an EV and running out of power without being able to find a charging port nearby.

A recent study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that EV range can fall by up to a quarter when the vehicle is carrying heavy loads.

“Range anxiety remains a top reason consumers are hesitant to switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to EVs,” Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson for AAA, said in a statement.

Another recent study by consultancy Ernst & Young—in collaboration with European energy industry body Eurelectric—found that range anxiety is the second-most cited concern about switching to an EV, with a lack of public charging stations in the top spot.

President Joe Biden has pledged to grow the nationwide network of public EV chargers to 1.2 million by 2030 amid the administration’s push to reach net zero by 2050.

Currently, there are around 60,000 public chargers (with nearly 160,000 charging ports) in the country, according to the Energy Department, with the NREL study estimating that this figure needs to rise to a total of 1.2 million by 2030 to support roughly 33 million light-duty plug-in EVs.

So far, just one EV charger has been built under a $7.5 billion program introduced by President Biden’s 2021 infrastructure bill to expand the charging infrastructure sharply.

Electric vehicle parking at a grocery store in Mount Joy, Penn., in February 2023. (Beth Brelje/The Epoch Times)

Other EV Concerns

Besides range anxiety and limited charging infrastructure, other concerns have weighed on EV adoption, including cost and reliability.

recent study from the Austin-based think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) found that, when taking into account various subsidies and regulatory credits, the actual cost of operating an EV is equivalent to running a gas-powered car with prices at a whopping $17.33 per gallon.

The report found that various subsidies, regulatory credits, and charging costs of an average EV from the model year 2021 add $53,267 to the vehicle’s price over a decade.

Assuming that the EV is driven for 10 years at 120,000 miles, this would make the “true cost of fueling” equivalent to an EV owner paying $17.33 per gallon of gasoline—many times higher than the $1.21 per gallon claimed by other estimates.

“This analysis shows that electricity is a long way from becoming a cost-effective transportation fuel compared to gasoline,” the report reads. “Without increased and sustained government favors, EVs will remain more expensive than ICEVs [internal combustion engine vehicles] for many years to come.”

An earlier study from Anderson Economic Group (AEG) found that, with higher electricity prices, “most traditional gas-powered vehicles cost less to drive than their EV counterparts.”

While the differences varied across segments and depended on whether charging was done at home or commercially, the results of the AEG study made a strong case that going electric simply costs more to run.

As for reliability, a recent Consumer Reports analysis showed that, on average, EVs were found to have had 79 percent more problems than gasoline-powered cars.

The least reliable were plug-in hybrids (PHEV), which had a whopping 146 percent more problems than gas vehicles.

Surprisingly, however, the most reliable vehicles, per the survey, were regular hybrids.

According to Consumer Reports, some of the most common problems reported by owners of EVs are issues with electric drive motors, charging, and EV batteries.

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