DEARBORN - As fuel costs continue to rise, automakers have experienced increasing pressure to produce fuel-efficient vehicles which save money for the consumer and reduce their carbon footprint. Ford’s electric vehicle lineup – the Ford C-MAX Energi, Ford Fusion Energi and Ford Focus Electric ¬– offer some of the best plug-in options for drivers wanting the best for the environment and their wallets.
To prepare dealers for the increasing demand of these progressive vehicles, Ford arranged a dealer training program for all Ford EV Certified dealerships titled “Understanding and Selling EVs.” The goal was to educate sales consultants and other Dealership staff members on the benefits of Ford’s EV lineup.
In addition, Ford offered “PowerUp,” a competitive test drive consumer program to select EV Certified dealerships. The goal was to provide additional sales consultants support to promote the electric lineup through education and awareness programs delivered via WebEx dealer briefings and 150 in-dealership competitive test drives in six key regions for EV buyers. Many dealerships in PowerUp also invited current owners to talk with Ford product specialists who were present at many of the events.
Garett Carr, Ford Electrification Marketing Manager, said the program was well-received. “The program was designed to give dealers an advantage when it comes to selling electric vehicles,” said Carr. “They have very smart customers that research the cars before coming in the dealership and [dealers] said the competitive comparison and walk-around demos were very helpful.”
The dealer training featured side-by-side comparisons of the C-MAX Energi, Fusion Energi and Toyota Prius Plug-in to give a detailed list of Ford product advantages. A sales consultant at Hoffman Ford in Harrisburg, Pa., felt the program better prepared them to sell to customers. "I was initially apprehensive about selling the Energi vehicles, but after talking and taking a test drive, I am confident and enthusiastic about selling these cars."
Another from Tower Ford in Great Neck, N.Y., benefitted from the technology training. "The MyFordMobile app is such an awesome tool that will be very beneficial. Now that it’s downloaded on my mobile phone, it is something that I will be showing to all my customers,” said a sales consultant.
The program also reached out to current EV drivers with customer appreciation and experience events. There were 52 consumer activation days that featured test drives, on-site Ford product specialists showcasing all the vehicle capabilities as well as answering customer questions and a sweepstakes drawing for the chance to win a two-year C-Max Energi lease.
One attendee of an event at Fullerton Ford in New Brunswick, N.J., purchased a C-MAX Energi on the spot. "I just went on a test drive in the C-MAX Energi and the decision was made that I had to have one. The last decision I have to make is which color to get."
Lastly, the program offered Ford dealers an opportunity to compete in an EV Walkaround competition where they could submit videos moving customers from C-MAX and Fusion hybrids to the Energi versions or demonstrating how they would sell a customer a Focus Electric.
“We had over 100 submissions and six finalists have been selected to be flown to Dearborn to participate in the final round in mid-December,” said Carr. Cash prizes totaling $15,000 will be given away and the winner will receive $6,000. The championship competition will take place Dec. 18 in Dearborn, Mich.