The first successful mass-production automaker, Ford Motor Company introduced a number of manufacturing and sales techniques that revolutionized production and sales of automobiles worldwide.
Perhaps Ford’s most important innovation was the establishment of the moving
A woman boards a Ford sedan in about 1923.
In the three decades following the war, Ford was comfortably situated among America’s Big Three automakers, ranking second to General Motors and ahead of Chrysler. Over the years, Ford diversified its offerings by creating the Mercury line of midpriced vehicles and purchasing or gaining controlling interest in other companies, including Lincoln, Opel, Mazda, Volvo, Land Rover, and Jaguar. Over the last quarter of the twentieth century, however, Ford has had mixed success in attracting buyers to new brands, scoring a hit with its Thunderbird in 1954 and Mustang in 1964 but failing with the Edsel in 1958. As the price of gasoline began to rise steadily during the 1970’s and more Americans began purchasing Japanese and European cars, largely because they obtained better gas mileage, Ford began to lose market share. Ford introduced the very popular Taurus in 1985, but during the 1990’s, it decided to capitalize on popularity of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) among American consumers. This, however, led to financial difficulties when customers began turning away from these vehicles after 2001. Consequently, Ford was forced to undergo a radical restructuring that included sell-offs of some brands and drastic reductions in the workforce. Although Ford joined Chrysler and General Motors in appealing to the federal government for financial help in October, 2008, its efforts at restructuring meant that it was in better financial shape than the other two automakers and was not expected to use any of the $17.4 billion in emergency loans that President George W. Bush made available to the Big Three in return for major concessions on December 19.
Brinkley, Douglas. Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress, 1903-2003. New York: Viking, 2003. Magee, David. Ford Tough: Bill Ford and the Battle to Rebuild America’s Automaker. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2005. Marquis, Samuel S. Henry Ford: An Interpretation. Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 2007.
Chrysler bailout of 1979
Ford Model T