Ford Motor Company

Template:Redirect Template:Infobox Company The Ford Motor Company (often referred to simply as Ford; sometimes nicknamed Ford's or FoMoCo, Template:NYSE is an automobile maker founded by Henry Ford in Detroit, Michigan, and incorporated on June 16, 1903.

Ford radically reformed the methods for large-scale manufacturing of cars, and large-scale management of an industrial workforce. Ford implemented the ideas of Eli Whitney, who developed the first assembly line using interchangeable parts, which made it possible to put the cars together at a much lower cost and with greater reliability and repeatability. The use of a chain driven track to move the vehicles to the workers was unique in the industry and quickly became the preferred methodology for volume production. As the individual work tasks became simple and repetitive this allowed the use of unskilled laborers who could be quickly trained for a single task but this also removed most of the satisfaction that a worker performing multiple tasks may enjoy.

The headquarters of Ford Motor Company are located in Dearborn, Michigan.



Ford was launched from a converted wagon factory, with $28,000 cash from 12 investors. During its early years, the company produced just a few cars a day at the Ford factory on Mack Avenue in Detroit. Groups of two or three men worked on each car from components made to order by other companies.

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A Ford Taurus, one of Ford's most recognizable cars.
A , Ford's first and signature car.
A Ford Model T, Ford's first and signature car.

In 1908, the Ford company released the Ford Model T. The first Model T's were built at the Piquette Plant. The company was forced to move production to the much larger Highland Park Plant to keep up with the demand for the Model T, and by 1913 had developed all of the basic techniques of the assembly line and mass production. Ford introduced the world's first moving assembly line on December 1 that year, which reduced chassis assembly time from 12 hours in October to 2 hours, 40 minutes. However these innovations were not popular, and in order to stop the staff deserting the monotonous jobs, on January 5, 1914, Ford took the radical step of doubling pay to $5 a day, and cut shifts from 9 hours to 8 [1] ( - moves that were not popular with rival companies, although seeing the increase in Ford's productivity, most soon followed suit.

By the end of 1913, Ford was producing 50% of all cars in the United States, and by 1918 half of all cars in the country were Model Ts. Referring to the Model T, Henry Ford is reported to have said that "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." This was because black paint was quickest to dry; earlier models had been available in a variety of colors.

On January 1, 1919, Edsel Ford succeeded his father as president of the company, although Henry Ford still kept a hand in management. The Ford company lost market share during the 1920s due to the rise of consumer credit. The company's goal was to produce an inexpensive automobile that any worker could afford. To keep prices low, Ford (at the behest of its owner, Henry Ford) offered few features. General Motors and other competitors began offering automobiles in more colors, with more features and luxuries. They also extended credit so consumers could buy these more expensive automobiles. Ford resisted following suit, insisting that such credit would hurt the consumer and the economy. Due to market constraints, however, the company finally gave in and followed its competitors' lead when on December 2, 1927 Ford unveiled the redesigned Ford Model A and retired the Model T.

The Great Depression

Ford maintained production for nearly two years after the start of the Great Depression, however the slump in sales led to Ford closing the Model A assembly line on August 1, 1931, with the loss of 60,000 jobs. The following year, five Ford workers were killed as unemployed workers marched to demand jobs. Henry Ford fortified his home and the factory. Only eight of 35 US plants were in production in 1933 and it took until 1939 before sales returned to their 1929 levels.

World War II

After the outbreak of World War II, U.S. domestic automotive production ceased for the duration of the conflict, as the nation's industries were redirected to war production. Ford Motor Company was responsible for major contributions to the Allies' war effort. Of the companies contracted to produce the famous World War II "jeep" or general-purpose vehicle, Ford produced the most (the other companies included Willys-Overland, which later adopted the name Jeep.)

Wartime production at Ford also included aircraft construction. Nearby to its Detroit-area headquarters, Ford developed the Willow Run plant and its associated airfield, where the B-24 Liberator aircraft was produced. The Willow Run plant was a massive facility, and held the distinction at the time of being the world's largest enclosed "room"; at its peak, the plant was able to produce as many as one B-24 aircraft per hour of production. Willow Run, located near Ypsilanti, Michigan, still operates as an airfield today; today, Ford rival General Motors owns part of the facility, where manufacturing continues.

During the War, thousands of women found employment in manufacturing at Ford, many for the first time. These women became symbolized by the famous poster image of Rosie the Riveter.

Ford's former manufacturing plant at Richmond, California, located near San Francisco, is under development by the National Parks Service as the Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front National Historical Park.

Ford's plants in Germany and Vichy France, Fordwerke, produced many of the cars and trucks used by the Nazis in World War II. The Ford Motor Company has denied allegations that they profited by the use of forced labor to produce tanks for the Nazis during the war, saying that Ford had lost control of the German division by that point in the war and was not responsible for its activities. (See: Strategic bombing survey) Similar charges have been made against other American firms which had European operations at the outbreak of hostilities.

Post war developments

Ford became a publicly traded corporation in 1956; however, the Ford family still maintains a controlling interest in the company. Henry Ford's great-grandson Bill Ford is presently chairman and CEO.

Brands and marques

Today, Ford Motor Company manufactures automobiles under the highly-recognized Lincoln and Mercury brand names. In 1958, Ford introduced a new marque, the Edsel, but poor sales led to its discontinuation in 1960. Later, in 1986, the Merkur brand was released, but met a similar fate in 1988.

Ford has major manufacturing operations in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and several other countries, including South Africa, where following divestment during apartheid, it once again has a wholly-owned subsidiary. It also has a joint venture with Mahindra in India.

Ford also has a cooperative agreement with GAZ. In recent years Ford has acquired Aston Martin, Jaguar, Volvo Cars, and Land Rover, as well as a controlling share of Mazda, with which it operates an American joint venture plant called Auto Alliance. It has spun off its parts division under the name Visteon. Its prestige brands, with the exception of Lincoln, are managed through its Premier Automotive Group.

Ford's non-manufacturing operations include organizations in the financial services (Ford Credit) and automobile rental (Hertz) businesses.

Global markets

Initially, Ford models sold outside the US were essentially versions of those sold on the home market, but later on there were vast differences between those sold in the US and those sold in Europe. The divergence in product tastes is such that European models like the Ford Mondeo have fared poorly in the US, while US models such as the Ford Taurus have fared poorly in Japan and Australia, even produced in right hand drive. The small European model Ka, a hit in its home market, did not catch on in Japan, as it was not available as an automatic. The Mondeo was dropped by Ford Australia, because the segment of the market in which it competes had been in steady decline, with buyers preferring the larger local model, the Falcon. The Focus has been one exception, which has sold strongly on both sides of the Atlantic, despite its European design.


1970  Mark 2
1970 Ford Cortina Mark 2

Initially, Ford in Germany and the United Kingdom built different models from one another until the late 1960s, with the Ford Escort and then the Ford Capri being common to both companies. Later on, the Ford Taunus and Ford Cortina became identical, produced in left hand drive and right hand drive respectively. Rationalisation of model ranges meant that production of many models in the UK switched to elsewhere in Europe, including Belgium and Spain as well as Germany. The Ford Sierra replaced the Taunus and Cortina in 1982, drawing criticism for its radical aerodynamic styling, which was soon given nicknames such as "Jellymould" and "The Salesman's Spaceship".

Increasingly, Ford Motor Company has looked to Ford of Europe for its 'world cars', such as the Mondeo, Focus, and Fiesta, although sales of European-sourced Fords in the US have been disappointing, and in Asia, models from Europe are not as competitively priced as Japanese-built rivals, nor are they perceived as reliable. The Focus has been one exception to this, which has become America's best selling compact car since its launch in 2000.

In 2001, Ford ended car production in the UK and it was the first time in more than 80 years that Ford cars had not been made in Britain, although production of the Transit van continues at the company's Southampton facility, engines at Bridgend and Dagenham and transmissions at Halewood. Development of European Ford is broadly split between Dunton in Essex (Powertrain, Fiesta/Ka and Transit) and Merkenich ( Body, Chassis, Electrical, Focus, Mondeo) in Germany. Ford also produced the Thames range of commercial vehicles although the use of this brand name was discontinued circa 1965. It owns the Jaguar, and Land Rover car plants in Britain which are still operational. Ford's Halewood Assembly Plant was converted to Jaguar production.

Elsewhere in Continental Europe, Ford assembles the Mondeo range in its Belgian facility in Genk (where a Transit production line was also maintained until 2003), while Fiesta/Ka assembly takes place in the Valencia plant in Spain. The Saarlouis and Cologne plants in Germany take responsibility for European assembly of the Focus.

Ford also owns a joint venture production plant in Turkey. Ford-Otosan, established in the 1970s, manufactures the Transit Connect compact panel van as well as the "Jumbo" and long wheelbase versions of the full-size Transit. This new production facility was set up near Koeceli in 2002, and its opening marked the end of Transit assembly in Genk. Another joint venture plant near Setubal in Portugal set up in collaboration with Volkswagen assembles the Galaxy people carrier as well as its sister ship the VW Sharan.

Asia Pacific

In Australia and New Zealand, the popular Ford Falcon is considered by some inappropriate as an economical family car, being considerably larger than the Mondeo sold in Europe. Originally the Falcon was based on a US Ford of that name, but is now substantially different, still having rear wheel drive, like its General Motors rival, the Holden Commodore.

Ford's presence in Asia has traditionally been much smaller, but with the acquisition of a stake in Japanese manufacturer Mazda, in 1979, Ford began selling Mazda's Familia and Capella (also known as the 323 and 626) as the Ford Laser and Telstar. The Laser was one of the most successful models sold by Ford in Australia, and, ironically, outsold the Mazda 323. The Laser was also built in Mexico and sold in the US as the Mercury Tracer, while the 1989 US Ford Escort was based on the Laser/Mazda 323. The smaller Mazda 121 was also sold in the US and Asia as a Ford Festiva.

Through its relationship with Mazda, Ford also acquired a stake in South Korean manufacturer Kia, which later built the Ford Aspire for export to the US, but later sold the company to Hyundai. Ironically, Hyundai also manufactured the Ford Cortina until the 1980s. Ford also has a joint venture with Lio Ho in Taiwan, which assembled Ford models locally since the 1970s. Ford came to India in 1998 with its Ford Escort model, which was later replaced by locally produced Ford Ikon in 2001.

South America

In South America, Ford has had to face protectionist government measures in each country, with the result that it built different models in different countries, with no rationalisation or economies of scale. In some cases, it based its models on those of other manufacturers whose plants it had taken over. For example, the Corcel and Del Rey in Brazil were originally based on Renaults. In the 1980s, Ford merged its operations in Brazil and Argentina with those of Volkswagen to form a company called Autolatina, with which it shared models.

Autolatina was dissolved in the 1990s, and with the advent of Mercosur, the regional common market, Ford was able to rationalise its product line-ups in those countries. Consequently, the Ford Fiesta is only built in Brazil, and the Ford Focus only built in Argentina, with each plant exporting in large volumes to the neighbouring country. Models like the Ford Mondeo from Europe could now be imported completely built up. Ford in Brazil produces a pick-up version of the Fiesta, which is also produced in South Africa, in right hand drive as the Ford Bantam.

Africa and Middle East

In Africa and the Middle East, Ford's market presence has traditionally been strongest in South Africa and neighbouring countries, with only trucks being sold elsewhere on the continent. Ford in South Africa began by importing kits from Canada to be assembled at its Port Elizabeth facility. Later Ford sourced its models from the UK and Australia, with local versions of the Ford Cortina including the XR6, with a 3.0 V6 engine, and a Cortina 'bakkie' or pick-up, which was exported to the UK. In the mid-1980s Ford merged with a rival company, owned by Anglo American, to form the South African Motor Corporation (Samcor).

Following international condemnation of apartheid, Ford divested from South Africa in 1988, and sold its stake in Samcor, although it licensed the use of its brand name to the company. Samcor began to assemble Mazdas as well, which affected its product line-up, which saw the European Fords like the Escort and Sierra replaced by the Mazda-based Laser and Telstar. Ford bought a 45 per cent stake in Samcor following the demise of apartheid in 1994, and this later became, once again, a wholly owned subsidiary, the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. Ford now sells a local sedan version of the Fiesta (also built in India and Mexico), and the Focus and Mondeo Europe. The Falcon model from Australia was also sold in South Africa, but was dropped in 2003.

Ford's market presence in the Middle East has traditionally been even smaller, partly due to the Arab boycott of companies dealing with Israel, although US Fords are now sold in Saudi Arabia.

A new direction for the new century

Under the leadership of the current chairman, William Clay Ford, Jr., the company (and Mr. Ford personally) stunned the industry and pleased environmentalists with an announcement ( of a planned 25 percent improvement in the average mileage of its light truck fleet - including its popular Sport Utility Vehicles - to be completed by the 2005 calendar year. Mr. Ford was also one of the first top industry executives to make regular use of an electric vehicle, a Ford Ranger EV, while the company contracted with the U. S. Postal Service for delivery of a large number of electric postal vans based on the Ranger EV platform. Many Ford vehicles now sport an emblem - a green leaf springing from a curving road-like twig, symbolic of the new "green" commitment to preserve the environment and reduce resource consumption while delivering safe, economical, and effective products to the motoring public. Note however, that FMC has made no significant progress toward the 2005 goal as of early 2005 (and in 2003 announced that it would not to try to achieve this goal), has terminated its electric vehicle program, recovering most vehicles for recycling via crushing and shredding (rather than putting the components or vehicles on the market), and has instead delivered ICE vehicles to the post office, despite obtaining various subsidies for EV development. In this period Ford also introduced the "Excursion", a supersized SUV, larger even than the GMC/Chevrolet Suburban. As with General Motor's Hummer H2 SUV this vehicle is so large that its poor milage does not count toward the manufacture's Corporate Average Fuel Economy ("CAFE") milage.

2005 bond downgrade

In May 2005, several bond rating agencies downgraded the bonds of Ford Motor Company to below investment grade (so called "junk bonds", at the same time they downgraded the bonds of General Motors. These downgrades were a recognition high health care costs for an aging workforce and of the dependance of the company for profits from the sales of Sport Utility Vehicles. Owing to higher fuel prices there has been a decrease in the profits on these vehicles owing to "incentives" (in the form of rebates or low interest financing), required due to declining sales. Foreign manufactures, not having the truck manufacturing capabilities to form a platform base for similar vehicles have instead introduced so called "crossover" SUV's — vehicles built on an automobile or minivan platform rather than a truck chassies. For various reasons including fuel economy, ride comfort, handling, and performance, these have proved to be popular in the market, while Ford had not developed such vehicles (with the exception of the Escape light SUV). As far as the other non-truck models, most of these (with the notable exception of the 2005 Mustang) are disadvantaged in the marketplace owing to a perception by buyers that foreign manufactures (especially Toyota and Honda) deliver better value in terms of fuel economy, reliability, and build quality. These perceptions are reflected in the used car market by higher values for these foreign models. For owners who frequently trade in and for those who lease their vehicles the resale values are reflected in substantial cost differences with domestic vehicles costing more in overall costs.

Response to the downgrade

The current strategy of Ford in response to the circumstances that lead to the bond downgrade is to reduce the company's reliance on a limited portion of their products for profit. To make good profits across their product line will require that they reduce the costs of development and production while introducing compelling products. This strategy is in contrast with that of GM, which has postponed development of a new rear wheel drive passenger car platform (called "Zeta" internally) to free up resources for the next generation of their light truck and SUV lines, this in the stated belief that their core market for such vehicles is sufficiently prosperous as to be insensitive to fuel price increases (and implicitly, to low resale values).


Notable employees, past and present


Ford received a 100% rating on the Corporate Equality Index released by the Human Rights Campaign starting in 2004, the third year of the report. In additon, Ford was named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2004 by Working Mothers magazine.


Ford Motor Company. 2003 Annual Report. Rochester, New York:St Ives Inc Case-Hoyt. [2] (

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