Ford has reportedly backed down on plans for agency. It is instead planning a hybrid approach that utilises the strengths of its franchise network while capitalising on opportunities of data sharing.

“We’ve evolved our thinking to become what we call an ‘advanced franchise’ model,” Ford EV sales and brand management boss Anna Lena Strigel told Autocar Business.

This will see the company “use the latest systems to get more insights about customers – and we can really follow the customer journey end to end – while still keeping the franchise partner as the very important backbones of our system.

“Learnings have brought us to an evolved franchise network.”

She added that Ford had expected the shift online to be faster, “but the reality shows us that customers wished to have a physical integration for the purchase, not only to get the test drive but also to have physical guidance during the transaction process”.

This is why Ford now recognises “the impact and power of our franchise partners”.

“We are working closely with our European Ford Dealer Council on shaping our future retail strategy for Europe,” a Ford spokesperson told Auto Retail Agenda. “Our entire industry continues to transform and we remain focused on delivering the best shopping and ownership experience for our customers.

“We have no specific details to share today on our plans.”