One key to making sure vehicles are sold in decent numbers is to have enough dealers offering them.

With this in mind, and with many EV and hybrid products on their way, Ford has tripled to more than 200 the number of U.S. dealers certified to sell its lineup of plug-in electrified vehicles.

Ford says the number of new vehicle shoppers considering plug-in hybrids has grown to a not-insubstantial 25 percent of those visiting a dealership.

In total, U.S.-wide, 900 dealers are either certified or enrolled for certification, nearly triple Ford’s initial plans for about 350 certified dealers by early 2013.

The first 67 certified dealers were in California, New York and New Jersey and have been selling the Focus Electric since spring. By early 2013, Focus Electric and C-MAX Energi will be joined by Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid.

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

“The amount of hard work and resources dealers put into becoming certified really is a testament to how excited they are, how excited customers are, and how excited we are about C-MAX Energi,” said Paul Russell, Ford’s field operations manager.

To become certified to sell Ford’s plug-in hybrid vehicle, Ford dealers first had to satisfy a list of requirements, including:

• 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 Onsite Facility Assessment to identify energy- and cost-saving opportunities with a goal of facilitating energy efficiency, lower operating expenses and carbon footprint reduction