Incorporated in 1903, Ford Motor Company was started by automotive inventor and entrepreneur Henry Ford. He is best remembered for bringing affordable, reliable cars to the masses with the introduction of the Ford Model T in 1908. Before the Model T, cars were a novelty, and sold as luxury products accessible only to the wealthy.
Ford’s moving assembly line revolutionises manufacturing
Ford’s invention of the integrated moving assembly line in 1913 made the Model T even more affordable. The assembly line cut the production time of the chassis from 12.5 to 1.5 hours, which substantially lowered productions costs, allowing Ford to lower the price. Ford then decreased its employees’ hours while at the same time increasing salaries, which led to greater employee retention. In fact, this move was integral to the emergence of the American middle class. As other industries followed suit, the nation’s workforce had access to more money, more free time and Ford’s durable, low-cost cars gave people greater mobility.
Functionality plus design equals iconic cars
In 1919, Edsel Ford took over the running of the business, and with him he brought a love of design. Over the years, Ford has introduced a number of now-classic cars to follow on from the legacy of the Model T. The 1927 Model A was the first to sport the company’s distinctive blue oval logo. 1954 saw the Thunderbird, or ‘T-bird’ in which the Beach Boys had ‘Fun, fun, fun’, hit the market. The iconic Mustang followed ten years later. The 1970s saw the introduction of the Fiesta hatchback in Europe, the 1980s saw the invention of the Taurus, and the 1990s brought with them the Ford Explorer and Mondeo, all of which are still household names.
The Ford family continues the company’s legacy of innovation
The company was family-run until 1980 when Phillip Caldwell succeeded Henry Ford II. But that was by no means the end of the Ford family’s involvement. The company’s current CEO is Mark Fields, but his predecessor was William ‘Bill’ Clay Ford Jr, great-grandson of the original Henry Ford, and now the Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company.
My great-grandfather helped put the world on wheels,” Bill says, “so everyone could enjoy the benefits of mobility. Our vision is to expand on that thinking, using advanced technology and new business models so that personal mobility remains viable in a crowded world.
Ford’s core tenets continue to be quality, safety, sustainability and, most important of all, innovation. The company is continuing Henry Ford’s legacy, but now instead of ‘putting the world on wheels’, Ford’s aim is to create ‘Smart Mobility’. At the beginning of 2015, the company opened its Research and Innovation Centre in Palo Alto, at the centre of the tech capital of the world, Silicon Valley. And in 2016, a new subsidiary — Ford Smart Mobility LLC — was formed to design, build, grow and invest in emerging mobility technologies.
“The ongoing success of Ford Motor Company is my life’s work,” says Bill. “Nothing is more important to me than our reputation as a family company that people trust to do the right thing.”