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About FordHenry Ford was not the first automaker, but he was the first to conceive of the moving assembly line. Ford's genius for mass production and distribution made cars affordable for the middle class and brought auto dealerships to every town in the United States. In 1914, Ford built 300,000 Model Ts, compared with 200,000 cars for the rest of the auto industry. By 1922, a million "Tin Lizzies" had been built.
Ford's obsession with economies of scale enabled him to achieve ever-lower prices for the Model T (available in any color you wanted, so long as it was black), although at times he seemed to show an almost flagrant disregard for the actual desires of the market. The outmoded Model T was finally replaced in 1927 by the A, which proved wildly successful, selling four million units over its lifespan.
Ford's flathead V8 premiered in the 1932 Model 18, and the engine's fundamental design would continue in... View more production for an astounding 21 years. Into the early 1950s, the flathead remained a popular engine choice for hot-rodders. The horsepower race of the late '50s spawned the supercharged 312 V8 in 1957, conservatively rated at 300 horsepower, and the NASCAR-dominating 427 in 1963.
The sleekly styled Thunderbird, released in 1954, was Ford's answer to the Chevrolet Corvette. The sporty car would develop into a personal luxury car that remains one of Ford's flagships models today. In 1964, the revolutionary Ford Mustang would send Chevrolet scrambling to develop their own "pony car", the Camaro.
Ford had noticed the success of the compact Falcon and developed a similarly sized, low-priced personal coupe. The Mustang was born. With no competition, sales numbers for the Mustang were overwhelming, and Ford had to divert production Falcon production to Mustangs meet demand. Of those first pony cars, the Mustang is the only one to have remained in continual production. The fifth-generation Mustang was released in 2005.
Ford's best-selling vehicle, the F-150 pickup, has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 24 years. It has been the best-selling truck for 34 years. The F-Series line of trucks were born in 1948.
Ford's U.S. market share has shrunk about 25% in the past 15 years and now ranks second domestically'and fifth worldwide. In 2008, GM and Dodge received federal money to avoid bankruptcy, while Ford did not. Ford resized the company, cutting 30,000 jobs and shutting numerous factories. Ford also discontinued or sold off many of its brands. It owned Aston Martin from 1989 to 2007, Jaguar from 1989 to 2008, Volvo from 1999 to 2010, and Land Rover from 2000 to 2008. Ford still controls the Lincoln brand, but its Mercury brand was phased out after 2010.
But against stiff competition from foreign automakers, such as Toyota and Honda, Ford has performed well in recent quality surveys, with five Fords taking the top rankings for their class as assessed by J.D. Power and Associates in 2007.
Ford plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid in 2012 and currently produces four hybrid vehicles: the Escape, the Fusion, the Edge, and the Lincoln MKX. View less
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