The History of Ford - The Brand That Started It All
As the world’s third largest auto-manufacturer, Ford Motor Company has a global portfolio that consists of many diverse models which exciting and cutting edge technologies. The American automaker is based out of Detroit, Michigan and was founded in the early 1900’s by Henry Ford who had learned about mechanics through many odd jobs including repairing watches and operating steam engines.
In 1899, Mr. Ford decided to venture into the newly developed industry of automobile manufacturing by founding the Detroit Automobile Company which struggled to gain traction in the market and was subsequently dissolved in January of 1901. Henry Ford, not one to quit at anything, reorganized the company and formed the Henry Ford Company which later became the well known brand Cadillac.
The Early Years
After wooing 12 inventors to his new cause, Henry Ford incorporated the Ford Motor Company on June 16th, 1903 and the company realized profits almost instantly pulling in nearly $300,000 by 1905. As the first product of the Ford Motor Company, the Ford Model A enjoyed relative success but quickly was redesigned as the Ford Model C in 1904. Today’s drivers might be amazed to find that these initial Ford models were all right-hand drive similar to British autos.
In the beginning, only a handful of cars could be assembled per day by a group of workers and the process was not very efficient. By 1913 assembly line technology had been integrated into Ford plants and the company was able to churn out 202,667 of its famed Model T unit compared to only 69,762 units in 1912 when the work was done without automation. Just to show how devastatingly disruptive Ford’s mechanized workplace was consider that the time it took to assemble a chassis was reduced from 12.5 hours to 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Although high turnover rates made the initial work on assembly lines difficult, Henry Ford quickly remedied the situation by reducing working hours and increasing pay. At first this practice was questioned by rival manufacturers but what resulted was a loyal group of employees who could buy Ford Model Ts after working for 4 months time. In 1914, Ford introduced his $5 minimum wage which was double the national average and would be equivalent to about $116 a day after today’s inflation.
Ford was one of the very first automakers to expand its reach into other parts of the world and in 1911 the first Ford plant outside of America was founded in Manchester, England. Just a few years later, Ford Motor Argentina was founded as a second world headquarters.
By 1921 Ford Motor Company was producing over 1 million cars per year which was nearly 10 times more than the next biggest automaker. As expansion rapidly increased, Ford decided to purchase the Lincoln Motor Company for $8 million (adjusted to $111 million in today’s currency) which further expanded luxury offerings.
Today, Ford is still one of the largest automakers and has a global presence that is represented by their extensive product portfolio including the Focus, Fiesta, Fusion (Mondeo), and Escape. Ford currently employs about 213,000 employees in many countries around the world. In addition to standard passenger cars, Ford Motor Company developed vehicles for motorsports, buses, tractors, and is pushing the future of transportation even today.