A total of 900 Ford U.S. dealers are to be certified to sell the automaker’s EVs by spring. In the same time frame, Ford will make the Focus Electric, C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi available in all 50 states.

Ford said the 900 dealers represents about one-third of all Ford dealers in the U.S.

This triples Ford’s original projections and are an increase of 200 dealers from November 2012, the second full month C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid were available.

Ford finds that sales of these hybrids are resonating with customers, further strengthening the case for dealerships to certify.

As seen in our January Dashboard, Ford delivered a record January hybrid sales month, following what Ford qualifies as a record-breaking EV sales quarter in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Ford expects to announce today record January sales for Fusion Hybrid.

Dealer certification allows dealers to sell the Focus Electric, C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid. Certification isn’t necessary for a Ford dealer to sell C-MAX Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid.

Ford announced this certified dealer program in February 2011.

Brian House, electrified vehicle sales manager at Varsity Ford in Ann Arbor, Mich., said the dealership went through the certification process about a year ago. He said the process has been worth it, especially when it comes to providing the best customer service possible.

“All 23 of our sales staff are able to answer questions about each of these vehicles,” said House. “That’s important, because customers want to learn as much about these vehicles as possible.”

Certification means the dealerships have met the automaker’s guidelines for dealers selling electric vehicles – including installation of at least two on-site charging stations and participation in highly specialized training in the field of electric vehicles.

To become certified, dealers have to satisfy a list of other specific requirements, such as:

  • One of the two required charging stations at the dealership must be in the customer area and the other must be in the service area
  • At least one Focus Electric and C-MAX Energi must be available at all times for demonstrations and events
  • Of the sales consultant, sales manager, service advisor and service manager jobs at each location, 80 percent must meet specific electric vehicle training certification requirements that cover topics including advanced knowledge of electrification
  • Each showroom will have point-of-purchase display materials including digital assets and window signage
  • Participation in a Ford Go Green Dealer on-site facility assessment to identify energy- and cost-saving opportunities with a goal of facilitating energy efficiency, lower operating expenses and carbon footprint reduction

Ford said it took a phased approach to rollout of the EV Certified Ford dealer program that began with phase one and centered on 19 key markets as determined by market research, projected customer demand and other factors. The same approach was used in phase two as the program launched in an additional 23 markets.

With more than 900 EV Certified Ford dealers expected to soon be in the network, the phase strategy is no longer being used.