Automobile Industry - Analysis of Ford Motor Company

Topics: Automotive industry, Volkswagen Group, General Motors Pages: 40 (3559 words) Published: December 6, 2014
The evolution of the automotive industry has been influenced by various innovations in fuels, vehicle components, societal infrastructure, and manufacturing practices, as well as changes in markets, suppliers and business structures. Some historians cite examples as early as the year 1600 of sail-mounted carriages as the first vehicles to be propelled by something other than animals or humans. However, it is believed by most historians that the key starting point for the automobile was the development of the engine. The engine was developed as a result of discovering new energy carrying mediums, such as steam in the 1700s, and new fuels, such as gas and gasoline in the 1800s. Shortly after the invention of the 4-stroke internal combustion gasoline-fueled engine in 1876, the development of the first motor vehicles and establishment of first automotive firms in Europe and America occurred.

During the 1890s and early 1900s, developments of other technologies, such as the steering wheel and floor-mounted accelerator, sped up the development of the automotive industry by making vehicles easier to use. Almost simultaneously, in America, the societal infrastructure that would provide fertile ground for the proliferation of automobiles was being set. Driver’s licenses were issued, service stations were opened, and car sales with time payments were instituted. Famous vehicle models such as Ford’s Model T were developed during these times and, by 1906, car designs began abandoning the carriage look and taking on a more “motorage” appearance.

During the 1910s, the development of technologies and societal infrastructure continued in addition to new manufacturing practices and business strategies. Traffic lights started appearing in the U.S. and thousands of road signs were posted by B. F. Goodrich on over 100,000 miles of U.S. roads. Henry Ford’s famous assembly line was launched in 1913, which allowed vehicles to be mass produced and thus achieved economies of scale. Ford also introduced the concept of using interchangeable and standard parts to further enable the mass production process. Automakers also started to merge with other companies (e.g., GM acquired Chevrolet) and to expand to other markets (e.g., GM of Canada).

In the 1920s, the development of infrastructure, adoption of new manufacturing practices, and the merging of companies continued (e.g., Benz and Daimler, Chrysler and Dodge, Ford and Lincoln). In the U.S., the Bureau of Public Roads and the enactment of the Kahn-Wadsworth Bill helped facilitate road-building projects and develop a national road system. In manufacturing, mass production methods became better established, which led to the availability of a wide range of satisfactory cars to the public. While Ford had focused on a single model, GM adopted a new production strategy for providing greater product variety, which helped the company increase their market share by 20% and reduce Ford’s by 24%.

In the 1930s, several new vehicle brands were developed (e.g., Ford Mercury, Lincoln Continental, Volkswagen) and trends in vehicle consumer preferences were established that differentiated the American and European market. In the U.S. market, consumers preferred luxurious and powerful cars, whereas in Europe consumers preferred smaller and low-priced cars. Also during this time, GM’s product variety strategy continued to give them a competitive advantage over Ford, allowing GM to continue increasing their market share while Ford kept losing theirs.

In the 1940s, during World War II (WWII), automotive factories were used to make military vehicles and weapons, thus halting civilian vehicle production. After WWII, the economies of most European and some Asian-pacific countries, such as Japan, were decimated; this required the development of new production and business strategies such as those of Toyota, which began to develop what...

References: Ford India Private Limited Annual Report 2012
Recent news about Ford India in Economic Times
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