Imagine the world’s first car, and what do you picture? A carriage-like vehicle with ornate bench seats and thin wheels? Chances are, your ideas of early automobiles are based at least in part off the Ford Model T, and that’s a testament to just how influential this brand has been for America, as well as the entire world.
An Industry Powerhouse
Ford had a major role in defining the early years of the commercial automobile industry, but it isn’t done making an impact just yet. Their modern goal is to become the most trusted company in the world, by designing cars that mirror the intelligence of the digital age. This goal is based on the core belief that the ability to move about freely moves human progress forward.
Like many other auto manufacturers attempting to meet modern demands, Ford is exploring sustainable power options for their newest vehicles, testing autonomous technologies, and delving into mobile applications as they relate to cars.
Dreams, Drama, and the Brink of Ruin
The early history of Ford is quite well known, as it’s often touted an integral part of Americana. Henry Ford first experimented with building cars at his Michigan home in 1896, but it wasn’t until 1908 that he successfully produced the famous Model T.
It was the first time that mass production had been necessary for a car, and Ford developed the world’s first assembly line production in a number of manufacturing plants as a result. In a move to improve productivity and morale, Ford also changed their wages to $5 for an 8 hour day, as opposed to half that for 9 hours.
For the next hundred years, Ford dominated the industry. They acquired a number of other brands, diversifying their offerings and catering to different clientele. However, the 2008 recession struck the auto giant hard. They were able to avoid bankruptcy, but not by much.
Sales became sluggish following the recession, and Ford has developed new, smarter strategies in recent years to produce vehicles that are more sustainable or can drive autonomously.
Fallen from the Top
Gone are the days of Ford’s auto industry dominance, though that’s not to say that the historic auto manufacturer isn’t still a major player in this space. There are simply too many competitors in the mid-level car space for Ford to achieve the same level of success that it had in its early years.
Companies like Toyota threaten to undercut Ford in the most general of terms, and Tesla outpaces everyone in terms of innovation. Ford will have to find a way to make this modern space work for them, as it no longer means as much to have name recognition.
As Ford works on bringing their product line up to date, they’ve had no problem adjusting to modern marketing trends, even enlisting the costly help of actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in 2017 to increase visibility and make the brand seem reliable.
That may be a difficult feat, though, in light of recent stories involving Ford’s lack of compliance with emissions testing standards. It remains to be seen how deep the issue goes, and Ford has attempted to maintain a great deal of transparency so far with the investigation.
In any case, Ford isn’t hurting too badly from a rankings standpoint. They currently sit at number 12 on the Fortune 500, though that’s down one spot from last year after investing $500 million of their revenue into electric vehicle development, and in turn posting profit losses.
Ford has experience on its side, but it remains to be seen whether that will be enough to keep this auto giant afloat in the 21st century.