The History of the Ford Motor Company

a ford pickup near a city river at night.

A Look Into Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, popularly known as Ford, is one of the few automobile companies that put our world on wheels at the start of the 20th century.

In the 1900s, cars were a luxury that only the rich and elite could afford. They were not mass-produced, and the few available cost a pretty penny. The Ford Motor Company manufactured reliable and efficient automobiles that middle-class Americans could afford.

This company is today worth roughly $61 billion in market cap value and has close to 90 assembly plants and offices worldwide.

The History of Ford Motor Company

The story of Ford Motor Company began in July 1903 when Henry Ford and 11 investors signed and notarized the paperwork required to create a new entity.

They filed their articles of association with the Michigan Secretary of State and named their entity the Ford Motor Company. Operations began at a converted wagon plant in Mark Avenue, Detroit, and the first Ford car, Model A, was developed that same year.

In those early days, Ford could only assemble a few cars per day using ready parts supplied by other companies. The company manufactured only 1,708 Models in its first year of business.

Ford Motor Company, shortly afterward, designed and produced the four-cylinder model N (priced at $500) and the six-cylinder luxurious Model K (priced at $2,500).

Sales for the Model K were so poor that they caused friction between Henry Ford, who wanted the company to focus on mass-producing inexpensive cars, and Alexander Malcolmson, one of the company’s co-founders.

Malcolmson resigned and sold his company shares to Henry Ford.

Henry Ford’s vision for his company was to manufacture inexpensive cars in large quantities that middle-class Americans could afford.

This way, his company would acquire a larger market share in the automobile industry and thus maintain profitability.

Ford struggled to achieve his vision in the early business years until October 1908, when the company introduced the Model T automobile and priced it at $850.

Demand for this car was so high that it motivated Henry Ford to develop a mass production method that we would later refer to as the assembly line concept.

Americans found the Model T affordable yet durable, practical, and low-maintenance.


Henry Ford, the sole founder of Ford Motor Company, established this entity using $28,000 from 11 external investors.

This company was Henry Ford’s third attempt at establishing an automobile entity.

Ford withdrew from his first two companies, the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899 and the Henry Ford Company in 1901, after facing conflicts with investors and business associates. Most didn’t agree with his strategy for mass-producing reliable and affordable automobiles.

Henry Ford established the Ford Motor Company in 1903 but didn’t become its president until 1906.

The company’s first president was John S. Gray, a local banker chosen by company investors. Ford’s investors denied him the title because they feared he would quit his company the same way he left the other two.

Competitive Advantage

The success of the Model T granted Henry Ford favor among most of his investors and business associates. He voted down associates who preferred more conventional production methods and manufactured the Model T with his assembly line concept.

The assembly line concept grouped workers into a progressive conveyor line, each specializing in one or two tasks.

Production occurred in a pre-defined sequence, starting with the front worker and ending with the one at the end of the assembly.

The assembly line concept increased daily production and reduced labor costs since it allowed untrained workers to specialize in a specific task in the production sequence.

The work rate was determined by the speed of the conveyor belt, so no worker had the leeway to slow down. Ford Motor Corporation built the first-ever U.S. assembly plant in 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri.

The company also established its first foreign production plant in Manchester, England.

Ford Motor Company introduced the world’s first moving assembly line in 1913, which granted the company an edge over its competitors.

Thanks to the new production method, chassis assembly time was reduced from 12.5 hours to 2 hours 40 minutes and later to 1.5 hours.

Production costs also fell from $850 to $300, and more than half a million Model Ts were produced by 1914. In 1920, the Ford Motor Company opened more assembly plants in Europe, Australia, Latin America, Canada, Asia, and South Africa.

Company – Successes

Ford Motor Company attained many progressive successes, each as significant as the other.

In the early 1920s, the company began constructing a massive automobile assembly plant and industrial complex in Dearborn, Michigan, close to River Rouge.

This plant would house all components required for automobile production, for example, a steel mill and glass factory.

The industrial complex would later become the company’s headquarters.

In 1927, Ford Motor Company halted Model T production after producing approximately 15 million since 1908.

The company launched Model A to compete with the Chevrolet automobile developed by the General Motors Corporation. Chevrolet was a powerful and stylish car compared to the Model T, and it caused a decline in demand for the Model T.

Ford Motor Company also launched the Ford V-8 in 1932 and, later, the more luxurious Mercury model in 1939 to compete with the Pontiac automobile developed by General Motors.

Company – Setbacks

Ford Motor Company didn’t face many significant setbacks in its hundred-year tenure.

Few came close to becoming setbacks, but the company persevered and prospered. In 1958, the company introduced the Edsel Model in honor of Edsel Ford, Henry Ford’s son and the third president of the Ford Motor Company.

Edsel took over the presidency in 1918 after his father’s retirement. He, however, passed away unexpectedly in 1943, and the company presidency went back to Henry Ford and later to Henry Ford II, Henry Ford’s grandson.

The Edsel model performed so poorly in the market that Ford Motor discontinued this automobile after only two years. Historians claim that the reason Edsel failed was due to incorrect market research.

There wasn’t any market gap for this automobile. Ford Motor Company suffered a loss of $250 million after having produced about 110,000 units of this ill-fated car.

Ford suffered another setback at the onset of the 21st century when Bridgestone recalled more than 6.5 million tires used in many popular Ford models, including the Explorer, Ranger, F-150 pickups, and the Mercury Mountaineer.

The company had to recall more than 300,000 automobiles and replace at least 13 million Firestone tires.

The tire fiasco cost Ford $3 billion and tarnished the company’s reputation. To make the situation worse, the Ford Explorer was linked to several accidents and deaths caused by the faulty Firestone tires.

Some experts claimed that Ford knew about the tires but failed to take action.

Business Strategies

Ford’s initial business strategy was to mass-produce inexpensive cars that ordinary Americans could afford. The company targeted middle-class consumers in the United States.

However, in 1922, Ford expanded its focus to luxury cars by acquiring the Lincoln Motor Company. The company wanted a stake in the luxury segment market to compete with brands like Packard and Cadillac.

Ironically, the Cadillac Motor Company was started by Henry Ford as the Henry Ford Company in 1901.

It was Ford’s second attempt at establishing a company in the automobile industry. The company’s name was changed a year later after Henry Ford left with rights to his name.

During World War II, the Ford Motor Company also temporarily changed its business strategy and focused on manufacturing planes, tanks, and cars for the US military.

The company completely halted the production of civilian automobiles.

Although Henry Ford didn’t want the American government to get involved in World War II, he felt compelled by public opinion to devote his company’s resources to America’s war efforts.

The company manufactured the military equipment at a newly established Willow Run plant west of Dearborn.

In the 1950s, the Ford Motor Company began diversifying its product line while creating new and better civilian cars. The company opened a tractor division in 1962 and introduced the Ford Mustang, which sold over 500,000 in just 18 months.

Ford Motor also launched the Ford Maverick, Mercury Monarch, Ford Granada, and Ford Fiesta in the 1970s and purchased a 25% stake in the Mazda Motor Corporation.

Ford also acquired Jaguar, Volvo, Aston Martin, the Land Rover brand, and the Hertz Corporation in the 1990s but sold most of these companies at the start of the 21st century.

Today, Ford Motor Corporation focuses on pickups, crossovers, and SUVs. The company announced in 2018 that it would phase out all its passenger cars apart from Ford Focus Active and Ford Mustang.

Lessons Learned From The Ford Motor Company

The key takeaway that we can learn from the Ford Motor Company is that we should “think different.”

This famous advertising slogan by Apple Inc. applies to the story of this automobile entity. You don’t always have to do things the conventional way.

Many investors and business associates in Ford’s time wanted to focus on producing cars for the elite. Henry Ford, however, had his eye on the middle-class American.

Ford also invented the assembly line concept for his production process, while some investors preferred conventional production methods.

To become a great inventor, your line of thinking should deviate slightly or wholly from the conventional way of doing things.


Ford Motor Company


1903: Henry Ford establishes the Ford Motor Company with 11 other investors.


1906: Henry Ford becomes president of the Ford Motor Company.


1908: Ford launches the highly successful Model T automobile.


1911: Ford builds the first assembly plant in the United States.


1913: Ford introduces the assembly line concept to manufacture the Model T automobile.


1918: Henry Ford retires as company president, and his son, Edsel Ford, takes over.


1922: The Ford Motor Company acquires the Lincoln Motor Company.


1927: Ford halts production of the Model T automobiles and introduces the new Model A.


1932: Ford introduces the Ford V-8 automobile.


1939: Ford launches the luxurious mercury model car.


1943: Henry Ford assumes the company presidency after the death of his son.


1945: Henry Ford retires again from the company presidency, and his grandson, Henry Ford II, takes over.


1958: Ford introduces the ill-fated Edsel model.


1960: Ford discontinues the Edsel Model.


1963: Ford introduces Ford Mustang.


1985: Ford launches Ford Taurus.


1989: Ford acquires a 25% stake in the Mazda Motor Corporation.


1989-1990: Ford acquires Jaguar.


1993: Ford acquires Aston Martin.


1994: Ford acquires the Hertz Corporation, a rental car company.


1999: Ford acquires Volvo.


2000: Ford acquires the Land Rover brand.


2005: Ford sells the Hertz Corporation.


2007: Ford sells Aston Martin.


2008: Ford sells Land Rover and Jaguar to Tata Motors Limited.


2010: Ford sells Volvo to Zhejiang Geely Holding, a Chinese company.


2015: Ford divests all its Mazda shares.


2018: Ford phases out its passenger car brands and focuses on pickups, SUVs, and crossovers.

For more See Ford’s timeline 

Company Subsidiaries

If interested in Ford subsidiaries, you can look at the latest search results from the link below.

Finding out which other companies the Ford Motor Corporation owns is interesting. There are a lot of times when you wouldn’t think that a larger corporation owns a smaller company.

Search Results – Ford Motor Company Subsidiaries

Mission Statement

Looking at Ford’s mission statement will give you an idea of the company’s core values. You can find the latest information about Ford’s mission statement by clicking the link below.

There are also articles about how well they follow their mission statement and what we can learn from it.

Search Results – Ford Motor Company Mission Statement

History of the Ford Logo

It is rare for a company’s name to change unless there has been a merger or takeover. In contrast, a logo will change before it has become popular, especially in the early days of existence.

Once it becomes popular, it may get a facelift, but its core will remain the same. Below is a link with the most current information on how the Ford logo evolved.

Search Results – History of the Ford Logo

Company Stock

Whether you are interested in Ford’s stock prices or are looking to invest in the company, you can find information related to Ford’s stock prices from the link below.

Search Results – Ford Motor Company Stock

Ford Motor Company Cars

A comprehensive overview of a company would not be complete without looking at its products.

Even though the new vehicles are appealing and have the latest technology, I still have a passion for the cars of the late 20th century.

Search Results – Ford Motor Company Cars

Jobs With Ford Motor Company

The link below offers current job openings if you are interested in working for the Ford Motor Company.

You’ll want to search in your area for various openings available unless you are willing to relocate. You’ll also come across job sites from the link below.

Search Results – Jobs With Ford Motor CompanyCars

Executive Team

If you’re interested in the current management team at Ford, the link below offers the latest information.

You can also search more about each team member for a stronger understanding of what they do and their accomplishments and contributions to the company.

Search Results – The executive team of Ford Motor Company.

Working at Ford Motor Company

An organization’s workforce plays a key role in its success. As a result, a company that treats its employees well is more likely to succeed and experience a lower rate of turnover.

The way a company treats its employees can tell you how well it is run. To find out what it’s like to work at Ford, see the link below.

See the latest search results for working at Ford Motor Company.

Company Complaints and Lawsuits

Looking into lawsuits and complaints for a company gives you an idea of how management is doing. Naturally, there could be a problem with management with many lawsuits and complaints.

If you want to take a few minutes, browse the latest search results below.

Search Results – Complaints and Lawsuits related to the Ford Motor Company.

Company Financials

If you are interested in the financials of the Ford Motor Company, then the link below offers the latest and most popular search results related to Ford’s financials.

Naturally, some will be highly technical, and you’ll need a background in finance to understand them, while others may be simpler to understand.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to take a couple of minutes to browse the search results offering information related to the Ford Motor Company’s financials.

Search Results – Ford Motor Company financials.

Company Assessment

Analysts who research companies and keep track of their performance provide an overview of how the company is coping and where it’s headed.

If you’re interested in information about the Ford Motor Company or are planning to invest in it, you may want to look at the link below.

Search Results – Ford Motor Company performance, trends, and assessments.


Books are another way to learn about the history of the Ford Motor Company.

So, naturally, when someone writes a book, there will be a lot of research and detail that will give you the complete story and history of the company.

I have listed a few below, and you can follow the link to get the complete list from

  • 100 Years Of Ford: A Centennial Celebration Of The Ford Motor Company
    by Publications International Ltd. and David Lewis
  • The Ford Century: Ford Motor Company and the Innovations that Shaped the World
    by Russ Banham and Paul Newman
  • Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress
    by Douglas Brinkley

View the most recent books related to the Ford Motor Company on Amazon.


Google’s new site will give you a list of topics related to the Ford Motor Company.

You also can set up an alert to get notifications anytime there is a new story in the news related to Ford.

See Google’s news search results related to the Ford Motor Company.


You can browse through YouTube videos for information about the Ford Motor Company.

However, you may want to relax and learn about the company if you have time. I went through a few of them and found them interesting. I selected one to include in this post which you can view below.

See the most recent videos related to the Ford Motor Company.