Ford just gave its dealerships a surprising ultimatum: Either commit to getting certified as a "Model e" dealership--requiring a huge investment and drastic changes--or else you won't be allowed to sell any fully electric models after the end of this year. Dealership owners only have until October 31 to make up their minds.

The move goes along with Ford's decision to divide itself into three operations: Ford Model e, for all-electric vehicles; Ford Blue Oval, for traditional gas and hybrid cars; and Ford Pro for commercial vehicles. Dealerships that opt for Model e certification will have lots to do. First, they'll have to install charging stations, including at least one rapid charging station, which must be available for the public to use. Next, they must agree to post prices for their vehicles on Ford's website, and they can't change those prices once they're set. Ford says it will check to make sure the dealerships are honoring those prices and not adding surcharges. Dealers must also agree to provide a Tesla-like experience in which customers can order a car online and have it delivered to their door.

In fact, competing with Tesla is what all this change is geared to do. Ford CEO Jim Farley has long believed that his company's most important competition comes from Silicon Valley, not Detroit. So Ford is branding Model e--a name it blocked Tesla from using--as an electric car and software company. Separating Ford into three separate arms means Model e can go head-to-head with Tesla on its own terms.

What does all this mean for customers? Here's why it's good news.

1. Ford customers don't have to set foot in a dealership unless they want to.

Some people love the dealership experience, but others find it creepy, especially when faced with high-pressure sales tactics. Ford is not selling direct to consumers, as some observers expected it might, but it's providing a similar experience where customers can buy a car--or have one serviced--without having to visit a dealership. And by insisting that dealers post prices online and then abide by those prices, Ford has taken the stress of negotiation out of the equation. Tesla famously never haggles over its prices.

2. Dealerships can't be wishy-washy about electric cars anymore.

When I went shopping for my electric car, I encountered several dealerships that had a few EVs on the lot but didn't seem especially eager to sell them. I sometimes found that that, having done a half hour of online research, I knew the EV's features better than the salesperson did. It was a dispiriting experience.

These rules require dealerships that want to sell EVs to spend between $500,000 and $1.2 million on new charging infrastructure. No dealership will do that unless it's all in on electric vehicles. Those that aren't all in will go back to focusing on the internal combustion cars they know and love by opting for Blue Oval. Customers can shop at either or both, depending on their preferences. They won't be stuck with salespeople half-trying to sell a car that they don't like or understand.

3. There are about to be a lot more chargers.

This may be the biggest benefit of all. Range anxiety--the fear that you'll run out of power before you ge to the next charging station--is the single biggest concern that prevents people from seriously considering an EV. By requiring dealerships to install chargers and make them available to everyone, Ford is attacking this problem head-on. The more charging stations there are, the less potential EV purchasers will have to worry about where to find the next one. It will make trying an electric car much less frightening. That's a win for everybody.