Ford’s Model e Certified sales program – which will be required for dealers that want to sell all-electric vehicles in the future – has faced its fair share of adversity in the form of legal challenges, trust issues, and concerns about its legality in some states. While most Ford dealers opted into the top-tier Certified Elite program at first, around half of all of those entities opted out of the program altogether for 2024, meaning that they’ll have to wait until 2027 to take that plunge, if they choose to. Meanwhile, Ford CEO Jim Farley has long sought to switch to online-only sales for the company’s EVs – a sales model that rivals like Tesla and Rivian already utilize – but it seems as if Fisker, another EV rival of The Blue Oval, is going in the opposite direction, according to Automotive News.
At first, Fisker planned to move its all-electric models solely through direct online sales, but now, it’s abandoning those plans and will instead do so via franchised dealerships starting in 2024. Previously, the company stated that it planned to sign 50 dealerships by the middle of the year, but now, founder Henrik Fisker intends to ditch direct sales altogether and recruit dealers personally. This stark turnaround can be blamed on slow sales since Fisker’s Ocean crossover launched last year.
“I discovered that in this current situation, with high interest rates, [expensive] real estate, and getting people trained is much more difficult,” Fisker said. “I think we just went that route because everyone does when you are a startup. I went to my accounting department and asked what is the cost of selling a car? We decided we would rather give that money to a dealer so that we could expand faster. We are looking for multibrand dealer groups that are owned by someone who can make quick decisions. The only thing we will keep is our lounges. In the U.S., we will go to complete dealer [representation].”
Fisker noted that the company’s franchised dealers will be able to sell not only the Ocean, but also upcoming products like a small, affordable crossover dubbed the Pear, as well as the Alaska mid-size pickup. Those dealers would face a few requirements, however, such as providing a separate area for Fisker models, as well as purchasing signage, tools, and tech training. “When the consumer comes in to see that car, we want that to be separate,” Fisker said. “We want it to be a low-cost entry for dealers.”