Ford to dealers: Want to sell electric vehicles, get green

In order to sell the upcoming Ford Focus Electric, dealers must complete a rigorous certification and undergo and assessment of their own environmental practices.

So far, Ford Motor Co. has blessed 67 dealers to sell its first all-electric car, the 2012 Ford Focus Electric. The vehicle, due later this spring in a limited rollout in California, New York and New Jersey, is supposed to be available nationwide later this year.

As I was reading about this development, I was surprised and happy to learn that not only do the dealers need to do all the requisite things you might expect to represent a new car model, they must also submit to a green operations assessment.

Yes, that's right. You would sort of expect the dealers to have to submit to sales and service training about the electric vehicles, to keep at least one Focus Electric for demonstrations and events, and to install at least two charging stations (one that must be available in the public customer area). Because electric vehicles require a lot of evangelization, selling them takes a higher level of certification, perhaps, than what you might otherwise expect.

But did you know that any dealer wanting to sell the Focus Electric must be part of the Ford Go Green Dealer program?

The assessment that is part of that program includes an evaluation for energy and cost-savings opportunities that could help improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon footprint for the dealers.

It seems like a sound idea, and one that will certain get more people in the automotive industry thinking about the implications of the products that they sell.

Still, I found myself wondering how many small dealers decided to take a pass on selling the Focus Electric rather than being forced to go green because it might have been something they couldn't afford post-recession.

That would be a shame, especially if they are in a location that might otherwise benefit from broader electric vehicle use. Here's hoping Ford is not only helping dealers assess themselves for sustainable operations processes but that it is helping them act on those assessments.

(Image of Focus Electric courtesy of Ford Motor Co.)

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