Ford Motor Company: History
There were a variety of cars that made their mark on the 19th century, but those made by Henry Ford are among some of the most well known. Ford built automobiles on a smaller scale for decades, but in 1903, he began in earnest with the Ford Motor Company. It has played a pivotal role in shaping America's modern way of life; Ford made the automobile attainable by the general public, and set the standard for streamlined auto production.
Ford: The Early Years
Henry Ford was an engineer, and he specialized in the design of the self propelled vehicle. Working with the City of Detroit, he formed the Detroit Automobile Company, which lasted from 1899-1901. When the Ford Motor Company started, Ford served as VP and engineer, trying to make affordable, mass-produced cars. The Model T came out in 1907, costing $825, and it had record-setting sales figures. The price later dropped to $575, driving sales even higher. Ford was able to keep prices reasonable because he perfected the concept of assembly-line work. His model was so efficient that the company was able to produce and sell one million cars by 1915.
Workers at Henry Ford's plant experienced tedious work, and turnover was high. To cut down on employee turnover, Ford announced in 1914 that he would double the average salary to $5 per day, a figure unheard-of at the time. He also reduced the workday to eight hours, bringing widespread acclaim to himself and his company. The eight-hour workday benefited Ford, allowing him to have three shifts in one day and further increase production.
The Later Years
In the 1930s and 1940s, the auto industry underwent changes. Ford and his Motor Company hired Henry Bennett to head up the service department. Bennett and Ford shared the same conservative values and did not want to change the way they did business. This stubbornness caused Ford Motor Company to lose ground to their competitors. As president of the company, Edsel Ford wanted to introduce new models that would appeal to younger consumers. Edsel Ford died of cancer in 1943, and his son Henry Ford II took over in 1945. Henry made many changes to the company and is given credit for saving it after World War II.
Through the years, the Ford Motor Company has stayed one of the most important car makers in both America and around the world. In the 1960s, Ford began production in Europe, also acquiring a 7% stake in faltering Mazda Motor Corp. in 1979. That acquisition led to a partnership that endures today. Ford vehicles are known for retaining their value, and two of the company's vehicles are in the top 5 in all-time sales.