Ford History

Ford is the other American giant auto manufacturer, alongside General Motors and Chrysler. It is, in fact, the fourth-largest car manufacturer globally, beaten only by Toyota, GM and Volkswagen in that order. It was started in 1903 by the none other than Henry Ford, a motoring legend and captain of industry who essentially invented the assembly line. His new, radical production technique emphasized quick turnaround time and low cost of manufacturing, leading to the famous quip about the Model T: “You can have it in any colour, as long as it’s black”. Ford also owns or controls large stakes in the Lincoln and Mercury brands (but these are little known outside North America), as well as Volvo. The company recently sold or reduced its stakes in Land Rover, Jaguar and Mazda.

In 2008 the company produced about 5.5 million vehicles, employed over 210,000 people and operated some 90 plants worldwide. The company was in trouble in 2009 during the auto crisis that threatened to derail all three American motor manufacturers. They were only saved by bailouts and loans from the U.S. government, and Ford production slumped to about 4.8 million cars that year. The losses were mainly caused by huge costs in healthcare for retirees, and a shortsighted over-reliance on SUV’s, which fell out of favour sharply after a spike in the price of oil. The companies had built up neither manufacturing capacity nor research for small, fuel-efficient engines, and they paid dearly for this mistake.

Ford Models

In New Zealand, Ford is a separate entity from Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV), which is administered as a discrete company in its own right. The range of cars sold under Ford includes the Falcon, available as a light commercial (ute) or large passenger car; the excellent Fiesta supermini, whose new version has won accolades in the European press; the Focus, a volume-selling hatchback that competes with the VW Golf; the Mondeo, whose recent model refresh has resulted in a much more visually interesting midsize car; the Ranger, a midsize utility pickup, and lastly the Territory, a crossover SUV built in Australia on the same platform as the Falcon.

Looking at buying a Ford? Check the vehicle history of any Ford by entering its number plate in the field above.