Ford Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley said at an Alliance Bernstein event that the electrification of the auto industry is “the most exciting land grab in our industry since the Model T,” but followed this up by stating the automaker might need to make adjustments to its business model to stay in the competition with other electric vehicle makers such as Tesla.

Farley hinted that the current dealership model might be adjusted as well, noting that Ford may implement “multiple tiers of dealers” in the coming years, which could include some more specialized dealerships in EV sales and repairs. The automaker has already begun limiting unsold vehicles and using a direct-to-consumer model for some cars, albeit on a much smaller scale than Tesla. 

Farley said that competition between traditional automakers and smaller EV companies and startups means “the industry is heading to a huge price war,” and Ford needs to find ways to reach and stay at the top. He said the company can use its “physical presence to outperform” new competitors but that dealers’ standards will be “brutal” and “very different than today.”

Ford already split its business into three units, including the commercial division Ford Pro, gas-powered car division Ford Blue, and EV division Ford Model e. At the time, Farley said Ford Model e would “produce as much excitement as any pure EV competitor, but with scale and resources that no startup could ever match.”

Farley also noted that Ford might be able to reduce the amount of money it allocates to advertising, especially for its most popular vehicles, including the electric Lightning F-150 pickup truck. He quipped, “If you ever see Ford Motor Company doing a Super Bowl ad on our electric vehicle, sell the stock.”

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