Ford Motor Company Analysis

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The Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is an American multinational automaker based in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The automaker was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. In addition to the Ford and Lincoln brands, Ford also owns a small stake in Mazda in Japan and Aston Martin in the UK. Ford's former UK subsidiaries Jaguar and Land Rover were sold to Tata Motors of India in March 2008. In 2010 Ford sold Volvo to Geely Automobile. Ford discontinued the Mercury brand at the end of 2010. Ford introduced methods for large-scale manufacturing of cars and large-scale management of an industrial workforce using elaborately engineered manufacturing sequences typified by moving assembly lines. Henry Ford's methods came to be known around the world as Fordism by 1914. Ford is the second largest automaker in the U.S. and the fifth-largest in the world based on annual vehicle sales, after having been passed by the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group in 2010. At the end of 2010, Ford was the fifth largest automaker in Europe. Ford is the eighth-ranked overall American-based company in the 2010 Fortune 500 list, based on global revenues in 2009 of $118.3 billion. In 2008, Ford produced 5.532 million automobiles and employed about 213,000 employees at around 90 plants and facilities worldwide. During the automotive crisis, Ford's worldwide unit volume dropped to 4.817 million in 2009. Despite the adverse conditions, Ford ended 2009 with a net profit of $2.7 billion. Starting in 2007, Ford received more initial quality survey awards from J. D. Power and Associates than any other automaker. Five of Ford's vehicles ranked at the top of their categories and fourteen vehicles ranked in the top three. Initially, Ford Motor Company models sold outside the U.S. were essentially versions of those sold on the home market, but later on, models specific to Europe were developed and sold. Attempts to globalize the model line have often failed, with Europe's Ford Mondeo selling poorly in the United States as the Ford Contour, while U.S. models such as the Ford Taurus have fared poorly in Japan and Australia, even when produced in right hand drive. The small European model Ka, a hit in its home market, did not catch on in Japan, as it was not available as an automatic. The Mondeo was dropped by Ford Australia, because the segment of the market in which it competes had been in steady decline, with buyers preferring the larger local model, the Falcon. One recent exception is the European model of the Focus, which has sold strongly on both sides of the Atlantic. By 2005, corporate bond rating agencies had downgraded the bonds of both Ford and GM to junk status, citing high U.S. health care costs for an aging workforce, soaring gasoline prices, eroding market share, and dependence on declining SUV sales for revenues. Profit margins decreased on large vehicles due to increased "incentives" (in the form of rebates or low interest financing) to offset declining demand. In the face of demand for higher fuel efficiency and falling sales of minivans, Ford moved to introduce a range of new vehicles, including "Crossover SUVs" built on unibody car platforms, rather than more body-on-frame chassis. In developing the hybrid electric powertrain technologies for the Ford Escape Hybrid SUV, Ford licensed similar Toyota hybrid technologies to avoid patent infringements. Ford announced that it will team up with electricity supply company Southern California Edison (SCE) to examine the future of plug-in hybrids in terms of how home and vehicle energy systems will work with the electrical grid. Under the multi-million-dollar, multi-year project, Ford will convert a demonstration fleet of Ford Escape Hybrids into plug-in hybrids, and SCE will evaluate how the vehicles might interact with the home and the utility's electrical grid. Some of the vehicles will be evaluated "in typical customer settings," according to Ford. In December 2006, the company...
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