The Ford Motor Company, one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world, is based in Dearborn (a suburb of Detroit), Michigan. Founded and incorporated in 1903 by Henry Ford, then aged 40, the company was started with $28,000 that he got from investors. The Ford Motor Company grew steadily to become one of the greatest and most profitable companies the world over that even survived the great depression. For many years it was the largest family-held business in the world and was held by the same family for over a century.
Ford Motor Company is a worldwide business empire worth billions of dollars. Besides manufacturing cars it also owns and operates Ford Credit Corporation which is the lending institution for the company. From 1994 to 2005, it also owned the Hertz Car Rental Company, one of the largest car rental companies in the world.
Ford Motor Company has manufactured automobiles under the brand names of Ford, Volvo, Jaguar, Lincoln, Mercury and Land Rover and, by 1996, had acquired a controlling interest in the Mazda Motor Corporation. In the early 2000s, Ford Motor Corporation suffered a major financial setback due to declining car sales and problems with quality, but they have since gotten back to a solid footing.
Henry Ford was an accomplished craftsman who enjoyed experimenting with gadgets and built his first experimental automobile in 1896. It had a twin-cylinder engine and could achieve a top speed of 20 mph. That gave him the idea to quit his job and start the Ford Motor Company in 1903. The first automobile he produced was the Model A, which had the engine mounted under the floor. He sold 1,708 vehicles in the first season for $850 each.
With the next generation of cars, Ford concentrated on obtaining increased speed for his vehicles. In the following years he produced different models, each with more speed than the earlier ones. In 1904, he built a racing car called the 999, which reached a maximum speed of of 91.4 mph.
Finally in 1908, Ford introduced the tremendously popular Model T. For the next 18 years the Model T was popular, due to its engine size, efficient fuel consumption and its speed which would reach 40 mph. Between the years of 1908 and 1927, more than 15 million Model T cars were sold. In early 1922, Ford began to expand his market to France, Germany and Great Britain.
Ford realized that the world was getting tired of the same model car all in the same color, black. He decided to discontinue the Model T and begin the manufacture of more innovative automobiles.
Henry Ford was the innovator of the assembly line which transformed the automobile industry. Until that time, every car was built from start to finish by one or two workers. In order to increase efficiency, Ford hit on the assembly-line idea. Every worker would perform the same task on each vehicle as it moved along on an assembly line. Production picked up and Ford was able to increase the wages of the workers. This led to an increase in the introduction of many new models as well as innovations such as increased horsepower, new suspension and hydraulic brakes.
Automobile production slowed down after World War II until the introduction of a new model in 1949. Ford cars with automatic transmissions started in 1950. The Thunderbird sports car, which was able to reach speeds of 113 mph and had a 5.1 liter engine, was introduced in 1955. The best feature of the 1958 Thunderbird was that it had a retractable roof which became known as a convertible.
With the increase of competition in the car industry in the 1960s, Ford Motor Company had to once again become innovative. In 1964, they produced the famous Ford Mustang which was a compact car with many features of a sports car. It was such a success that Ford Motor Company sold 417,000 vehicles in its first year on the market.
The innovations of the Ford Motor Company made it into a world leader in automobile manufacture right into the 21st century. The vehicles and technology developed by the Ford Motor Company helped it outpace many other automobile manufactures both in the United States and elsewhere in the world.