Henry Ford has transformed our way of life with practical and affordable cars. He was the inventor of modern mass production methods that became the reference of industrial practices during the first half of the 20th century. Born on July 30, 1863 at Springwells, Wayne County, Michigan he was the eldest son of William’s six children and Mary Ford, a prosperous family of farmers. He shared time between school and farm munitions. Since the infancy, he shows interest in mechanics. So he will become a genius. Today, he is recognized as one of the most important figures in the industry. In 1875, at the age of 12, Henry spent his entire spare time in a small workshop he himself equipped. He built his first steam engine at the age of 15 before leaving his home in 1879 for a neighboring city with Detroit, where he will deepen his mechanics, sometimes returning home to help his family work field. He will learn for 3 years after returning to Dearborn. Then, he will devote his time to repairing steam engines in various workshops and maintaining machinery on his father’s farm. In 1888 he will marry Clara Bryant and maintain his family by engaging in a factory.
In 1891, Ford became an engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. His promotion in 1893 will give him the time and means of mobilizing attention to experimenting with internal combustion engines.
His experiments come to a peak in 1896 when he built his own motorcycle – Quadricycle. The first Ford engine in history has been tested in the Ford family kitchen. With this attempt, he engineered a chassis engine fitted with 4 wheels of a bicycle. This is how the first Ford car was born.
In 1899, Henry resigned from Edison and organized the Detroit Automobile Company. A year later, the company goes bankrupt. During this time, he designs and builds more racing cars. The first car offered for sale was described as ‘the perfect car’ and ‘so simple that a 15 year old boy can drive it.’ The first sale was made to Dr. E. Pfennig of Chicago, who bought his car one month after the company was founded, to delight the troubled shareholders. For the next five years, Henry Ford, first as chief engineer and then as president, headed the company that in 1905 moved from leased offices on Mack Avenue to a much more comfortable building located at the intersection of the Piquette and Beaubien streets. After the first 15 months of operation of the company, a total of 1700 Ford Model A units came out on the factory. Between 1903 and 1908, Henry Ford and his engineers created models that wore the first 19 letters of the alphabet: from model A to S. Some of these were just experimented and never reached the public. Some had 2 cylinders, others 4, and one had even 6. Some had chain drive, others with a cardan shaft, and in two cases the engine was placed under the driver’s seat. Probably the most successful of these was the N, a small, lightweight, 4-cylinder engine that sold for $ 500. Instead, a six-cylinder $ 2500, Model K, was a failure. In a time when the car was a toy for the very wealthy, Henry Ford’s dream of building a simple and solid car for everyone began to take shape. The T model was his name and today is the most famous car ever built. The base price was $ 260, but with optional $ 400.
Ford Model T entered production and history on October 1, 1908. The ‘Universal Machine’, as Henry Ford was named, was immediately appreciated by millions of Americans. Low cost, reliability and robustness have convinced many. In the first year of production, ‘Tin Lizzie’, as it was nicknamed by the public, was sold in 10660 copies, a record for the industry at that time. For 19 years, 15007033 copies were sold only in the United States. In these years, the Ford Motor Company experienced a fantastic expansion: in 1910, the Highland Park plant in Michigan was opened, in 1911, the first affiliated factory in Kansas City in 1913, due to the high demand, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Long Island City and Buffalo, in 1917 began the production of trucks and tractors, and in the same year the construction of the Rouge complex in Dearborn, Michigan, was acquired by Lincoln Motor Company in 1922. The civilian production of cars stopped in 1942, when all the company’s resources were involved in the war effort. Initiated by Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford, the war program produced 8600 B-24 ‘Liberator’ bombers with four engines, 57,000 aircraft engines and more than a quarter of a million tanks. In 1948, all car companies began to present new models, dramatically changed to what the public knew. After three years of reworked ’42 models, a thriving America was ready for a revolution in car design. On June 8, Ford introduced the 1949 model. With round shapes, independent front suspensions and a ground-breaking bodywork that integrates wheels and bumpers, the Ford 1949 has set a new standard.
Reorganization of the company after the war was successful and soon Ford Motor Company thrives again. Development was the word of order. The result: 44 factories, 18 assembly plants, 32 spare parts warehouses, two significant test strips and 13 research institutes in the United States alone.
Today, Ford Motor Company has the brands Ford, Mercury, Mazda and Premier Automotive, namely Aston Martin, Jaguar, Lincoln, Volvo and Land Rover. Mazda came under the umbrella of the group in 1979, Aston Martin Lagonda was acquired in 1987 and Jaguar in 1990. The latest in the company are Volvo and Land Rover.
In addition, Ford Motor Company is also involved in vehicle financing (Ford Credit), spare parts and service (Ford Customer Service Division, Quality Care, KwikFit) and car rental (Hertz). Ford Credit is a Ford Motor Company subsidiary and is the largest auto financing company. It has more than 11 million customers in 36 countries that are attended by nearly 20000 employees. Hertz, another Ford subsidiary, is the world’s largest car rental company. It operates in over 140 countries and serves millions of customers. In 2001, Hertz had a profit of $ 4.9 billion. On January 1, 1999, William Clay Ford Jr., the grandson of Henry Ford, became chairman of the board of directors. On October 1, 2001, he took over from Jacques Nasser as president and CEO of Ford. Today, Bill Ford is nr. 1 in the Ford Motor Company. After 100 years, leadership is still in the family.lĺ