Here's Why Real Americans Buy Ford

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Here's Why Real Americans Buy Ford

some people believe henry ford invented the first car others believe that he invented the assembly line but he didn’t so why is he so famous well henry ford had this idea that everyone in america should be able to afford a car to make this a reality he revolutionized the car manufacturing process the innovations he made didn’t just change the car making business but also helped america’s 20th century middle class take off join us on a ride through ford’s history it’s 1875 michigan usa young henry ford is just 12 years old when he experiences two events that will majorly impact his life his father gives him a watch and he sees the operation of a nicholson shepherd steam engine tractor on a country road henry has grown up on a farm in greenfield michigan this is the first vehicle other than horse drawn he has ever seen the next year he successfully repairs a friend’s watch taking it apart he extracts a sliver from its working he quickly gains a reputation as a watch repairman amongst neighbors and friends he hates farming but he loves machines three years later he leaves the farm to work as an apprentice machinist in detroit but returns in 1882 he does little farming instead he operates and services engines used by farmers he thinks farm animals consume far too much hay and oats and believes farming should become more mechanized to make it easier for farmers he attempts to make a farm tractor before he gets into making cars during this time he marries the daughter of a neighboring farmer clara bryant she will become an active suffrage fighting for the rights of women to vote in 1891 they moved to detroit where henry without any formal studies gets a job as a mechanical engineer with the edison illuminating company in his home workshop he continues to build engines fast forward to 1896 henry is now 32 years old he has become chief engineer at the edison illuminating company he also completes his first automobile which he calls the quadricycle because it runs on four bicycle tires it’s powered by a two-cylinder ethanol engine that produces four horsepower it has only two forward speeds with no reverse gear after various test drives it records a top speed of 20 miles an hour he sells it for 200 bucks and goes on to build another two now he’s come up with the idea of a low-priced car for ordinary americans most people think cars are only for the rich but not henry ford he attends a convention of the association of edison illuminating companies at the oriental hotel on manhattan beach in brooklyn there he is introduced to thomas alva edison who sees his plans for a gasoline automobile and encourages him to continue let’s pause here this is thomas edison he has often been described as america’s greatest inventor the same guy who gave us the light bulb and it wasn’t just the light bulb he also invented the phonograph and the motion picture camera well he didn’t actually invent the motion picture camera he bought the rights from a frenchman but that’s another story ever thought about where the phrase light bulb moment comes from yes thomas edison the funny thing is we often think inventors sit alone when that light bulb moment suddenly happens but edison was in fact one of the first inventors to apply teamwork to invention so he applied principles of process which allowed inventors to work together we’ll see later in the story how he and henry work together to produce an affordable electric vehicle we know now they weren’t successful at the time which makes us wonder why but let’s continue on ford’s journey after meeting edison henry shows him his designs for an internal combustion engine edison encourages henry to carry on even though he believes the future is in electric cars turns out he was right he was just ahead of his time by a hundred years or so it’s now 1899. ford leaves the edison illuminating company to start his own company the detroit motor company the following year he releases his first vehicle a gasoline-powered delivery truck it gets great reviews but is unreliable and slow in an effort to get sales the company creates a catalog that compares the cost of running the vehicle to the cost of a horse and carriage despite the effort the company fails but ford tries again with the henry ford company by now he has built a 26 horsepower race

car he competes in a 10 lap race at the one mile overall of the detroit driving club and beats alexander winton the top race car driver of the era who is driving a 70 horsepower racer he uses the money wins at the race to fund this new company but it fails too because investors feel he’s spending too much time on auto racing so he leaves the company with the rights to his name and 900 bucks but he leaves behind the plans for the commercial car he’s been working on henry leland who’s working at the henry ford company thinks the plans will work he successfully convinces the investors to continue with the business and launch the car they changed the name of the company to cadillac named after the french explorer founded detroit in 1701 ford in the meantime find some more investors to start a third company two of his investors are the brothers john and horace dodge who’ll later start their own car company you can guess what that is will the third time be lucky for ford the name of the new company says it all the ford motor company ford is not president at the beginning because his investors have concerns that he might leave the company who can blame them with his track record but now we’ll see how this changes ford motor company launches 1903 and the same year the ford model a is released it’s practically identical to the model that cadillac launched a few months prior this is hardly surprising since they use henry’s designs this begins a lifelong grudge henry will hold against henry leland much later in the story we will see how he gets his revenge but first let’s pause for a moment why was detroit home to so many giants in the motor industry in the space of just a few years we got all these car makers starting up in detroit there’s ford cadillac dodge and lincoln in which henry leland went on to start a few years later why does motor city or motown as detroit becomes known become the global center of the automotive industry a key reason is location it’s along the great lakes waterway a major port and transportation hub so this is how it happens you get one motor company setting up their business there they train and attract workers now motor company number two has set up shop detroit isn’t the only transportation hub in the country of course but they’ve also got a skilled workforce so motor company number two pulls in now you got even more skilled workers and the cycle continues before long you’ve got a whole lot of motor companies across the road from each other the same thing happened in silicon valley in the 1990s as it turned into a global hub for technology but let’s get back to our story the ford motor company is taking off 1 750 model a cars are made through 1903-1904 that’s a few cars a day two or three men work on each car more models are released and more are sold each year then in 1908 the model t is released by 1908 there are only 18 000 miles of paved road in the united states so henry uses light and strong vanadium steel alloy to build the critical parts of the vehicle his cars will not be frivolous fun cars for the rich but real hard working reliable cars for the mass market it’s a huge success in its first year over ten thousand models are produced and a few years later the number rises to one hundred and seventy thousand two hundred and eleven before the model is retired in 1927 15 million would be sold making it one of the best selling vehicles of all time it is considered by most to be the most important car ever made but that still isn’t enough for henry he’s looking for ways to make cars more affordable it’s now 1913 and things start accelerating henry introduces the world’s first moving auto assembly line he reduces the time to assemble a car from 12 and a half hours to 2 hours and 40 minutes and eventually 1 hour and 33 minutes this means by 1920 they’re producing 1 million cars a year the moving assembly line is critical to henry achieving his goal of bringing cars to ordinary americans so how did this moving assembly line come about let’s rewind a few years to understand the steps that led up to this incredible innovation car making starts in the late 19th century each vehicle is individually hand built very few parts are interchangeable with any other vehicles very few parts are duplicated craftspeople building these vehicles need to be highly skilled then carmakers start using interchangeable parts earlier versions of this are used in the oldsmobile curved dash another car maker in detroit in 1901 so now you have a whole lot of the same parts that fit a whole lot of cars this makes cars easier and faster to make the people who assemble these cars don’t need the same degree of skill

henry designs his cars to use interchangeable parts he also aims for less interchangeable parts this means less assembly time he first tries setting up assembly stands usually only a few workers work at each stand and assemble the car then he tries having parts taken to the workers at the stands then he has workers moving along the stands he trains each worker to do just one thing and then move on to the next stand but walking between stands takes time and causes traffic jams how can he make it easier and quicker he introduces the world’s first moving assembly line he moves the cars to the assemblers it’s a simple system that holds the cars along the factory floor the vehicle’s wheels are attached to metal strips which are attached to the moving belt the idea comes from william pa clan who brings it to henry henry has sent his team searching for ideas william gets it from visiting a slaughterhouse in chicago where carcasses are butchered as they move along a conveyor one person removes the same piece over and over without moving from a spot it changes the way cars are produced forever it also changes how other things are manufactured too it is because of that henry ford is often regarded as the father of mass production the assembly line allows henry to achieve his dream of making cars affordable for working families in 1908 the price of a model t is around 825 bucks and by 1912 it has to drop 590 bucks by 1914 an assembly line worker can buy a model t with four months pay by 1925 it drops even further around 260 bucks the equivalent price today would be around 3 120 bucks which is a pretty good deal even though it didn’t have air conditioning wi-fi power steering a lot more stuff but there’s one big problem with the assembly line the cars are made faster than the paint dries this creates a bottleneck in the production line a moving assembly line works efficiently when everything keeps moving one slow area will slow the whole assembly line down there’s only one paint that dries fast enough and that paint is black so what does henry do he only makes black cars the company drops all the colors that have been available before 1914 it was only in 1926 that paint technology catches up with a fast drying dugo lacquer henry is quoted as saying any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black he only made black cars for a few years because it was the only way he could make cars that everyone could afford at the time the assembly line is not the only thing henry does in 1914 not by a long shot let’s reverse just a bit to january the 7th the newspaper headline says it all gold rush is started by ford’s five dollar offer henry stuns the world by introducing the five dollar day he basically doubles his workers pay overnight but why we know he said he wanted his workers to be able to afford the cars that they made what better way than making cars affordable and paying his workers more this is part of the reason but it’s not the whole story henry is a clever businessman and he’s driven by the idea of efficiency by 1914 employee turnover is high at ford and this isn’t efficient every time someone leaves it means training someone new henry wants to make workers stay at the company so he pays them more not only more but double what they can earn anywhere else who wouldn’t stay at a company that doubles your salary overnight i know i would it’s not just the workers pay that doubles over the next two years profits double at the company too this was because the workers are so motivated that they become highly efficient it has other consequences too competitors are forced to raise wages to avoid losing their best worker this means that soon everybody is earning more this means they’re all buying more too so the economy becomes stronger it’s a win-win for everyone but he has another side too he also introduces a profit chair for people who work at ford for more than six months but this comes with some questionable strings attached in order to qualify they have to conduct their lives according to ford standards the rules include no heavy drinking gambling or deadbeat dads as they are referred to back then this is highly controversial nobody wants the company they work for to tell them how to live their lives even henry realizes he’s gone too far he also gives workers a shorter week workers have been working six days with nine hour days ford reduces the working week to five and a half days with eight hour days this isn’t just to make workers happy it’s also based on efficiency you can only fit two nine hour shifts into 24 hours

this means the factory stands idle for six hours but if you reduce the shifts to eight hours well then you can fit three chefs into a 24 hour day this means your factories work solidly for 24 hours and that’s more efficient henry always wanted to make life easier for workers the assembly line kept them safer they stayed in one spot instead of moving around this drastically reduced the rate of injury a combination of high wages and high efficiency including the assembly line is copied by many companies across the united states it makes workers more money and makes companies more productive everyone follows as lead in order for their business to survive this results in an increase in efficiency in many companies not just ford this way of working will eventually be used in shipbuilding and aircraft production this will satisfy the demands of world war ii afterwards william s nudsen who worked at ford gm and the national defense advisory commission says we won because we smothered the enemy in an avalanche of production the like of which had never been seen nor dreamed possible 1914 is a busy year for henry ford his assembly line is rolling and his company is making hundreds of thousands of cars a year he buys his wife clara an electric car it’s a 1914 detroit electric which she prefers to the model t it runs 80 miles on a single charge and reaches a top speed of 20 miles an hour word spreads that henry is looking at manufacturing an electric vehicle the new york times reports he’s building experimental electric cars other rumors report that he’s bought an electricity generating plant in niagara falls my hometown specifically for the production of the edison ford car henry confirms these rumors saying that he and thomas edison you remember him the guy invented the light bulb have been working on an electric car that will be practical and affordable the problem is building a lightweight battery that can operate for long distances without recharging edison tells automobile topics that the edison ford car is coming along and will sell between 500 and 750 edison believes eventually the electric car will be universally used everywhere well turns out he’s right it just takes a lot longer than he expected in fact at the turn of the century there are more electric cars and gas cars on the road in the united states forty percent of the cars are powered by steam 38 by electricity and only 22 percent by gasoline electric vehicles are better than gas powered cars in many ways they don’t vibrate or smell they don’t make noise they also don’t need a hand crank to start the engine but electric cars are much more expensive than gas cars by 1912 edison has built three cars he drives one from scotland to london he achieves top speeds of 25 miles an hour with two 15 volt batteries and a 30 volt electric motor but his car is twice as expensive as a gasoline car this is where henry comes in he made gas powered cars affordable can he do the same with electric cars we’ll never know because by 1914 the project falls apart some say it’s because henry insists on powering the car with edison’s nickel iron batteries which are not suitable there are rumors that the oil cartels are involved these rumors are fueled further when edison’s workshop in west orange is destroyed by a fire the only outcome from the edison ford project seems to be his electric starter and electric lighting systems which are added to the model t in 1919 let’s fast forward for a moment to 2020 this is year ford is planning to have 10 to 25 percent of their fleet electric it takes over 100 years for henry and edison’s vision of a mainstream electric vehicle to materialize now back to 1917 america enters world war one henry is a pacifist he even went on a peace mission to europe two years prior to protest the war now he has commandeered to assist with production of vehicles four develops the three-ton m1918 ford tank the contract is to produce 10 000 of these lighter cheaper tanks they initially built 15 and one is sent to france for testing it is found to be inferior to the renault ft so the order is cancelled one wonders how disappointed henry is with all this he likes things to work but he disapproves of the war with henry you never know after all a year later he tricks the shareholders into selling their shears in the ford motor company it is 1918 he makes a son edsel president then he starts a new company called henry ford and son he makes a big shower taking himself and his top people to the new company he offers to buy back the shareholders shares and forward income

the shareholders agree because they think their shares will decrease with henry gone once they do they realize they’ve been tripped he never had any plans to start a new company he just wants complete control over the ford motor company even his son who is now president doesn’t get to make decisions henry overturns those decisions he disagrees with now it’s 1922. henry gets revenge on henry leland for using his designs all those years ago the war has not been kind to leland and lincoln has gone bankrupt henry purchases lincoln and he has leland and his son escorted out of the building it’s not just draven ford needs a separate luxury division edsel is keen to develop cars more exciting the model t and pushes his father into making cars that aren’t just practical edsel is responsible for lincoln’s zephyr and lincoln continental he introduces important features such as hydraulic brakes but by 1927 sails are dwindling other car manufacturers are eating into the model t sales especially chevy who’s going after the model t market the chevy ford rivalry begins chevy now part of general motors overtakes ford in sales henry allows us that edsel is right a new design is necessary he shuts down the factory to tool up for the new models it’s 1927 and ford releases the model a it’s styled by edsel and is beautiful and fashionable it’s the first car with safety glass and a windshield ford retakes the lead two years later chevy introduces a six-cylinder model they promote the six-cylinder model for the same price you’d pay for a four it’s priced at 555 dollars to 675 the model a ford costs from 385 dollars to 550 the large and more powerful chevy cars preferred by customers henry thinks it’s all over for four cylinder cars he closes 25 of his 36 plants and lays off 75 000 men but he has a trick up his sleeve he’s been experimenting with eight cylinders he tries an x8 configuration but without success it’s too heavy and fails repeatedly now he’s secretly working on something else one year later he launches the first low-priced car with a v8 engine once again he brings innovation to the ordinary people the breakthrough occurs because he develops a single block mold engine up until now v8 engines have been made with multiple parts the v8 flathead makes it affordable it isn’t just ordinary people who can go faster the car is also favored amongst american gangsters in 1934 ford receives a letter from or supposedly from clyde barrow endorsing the ford v8 clyde barrel of the notorious bonnie and clyde gang the next few years ford is badly not only the competition but also the unions henry doesn’t believe in unions edsel attempts to reason with them eventually his wife clara threatens to leave him if he doesn’t sign with the unions he signs and gives workers better terms than both gm and chrysler now it’s 1941. it seems that america will enter world war ii the government asked ford to produce parts for the b-24 liberator military aircraft ford goes back to the government with a counter proposal they will build complete airplanes in march construction starts on the willow run plant in michigan by september they begin partial production next to the plant they construct an airport with six runways and three aircraft hangers the plant is formally dedicated on october 22 1941 45 days later pearl harbor is bombed america enters the war edsel sets a goal of producing one plane every hour they achieve that goal edsol doesn’t live to see the end of the war he dies from stomach cancer in 1943 at just 49 years old his son henry ford ii is serving in the navy and cannot take over the presidency of the ford motor company so henry reassumes the presidency buddies aging inconsistent and suspicious and no longer fit for the task the company begins to decline president franklin roosevelt considers a government takeover to protect the wartime production but this doesn’t happen henry ford ii leaves the navy and joins the company management a few weeks later but his grandfather won’t give him control eventually henry’s wife clara puts pressure on him to let go sounds like my wife and that soul’s widow threatens to sell her shares unless her son is given control finally two years and 19 days after the war ends henry ford steps down henry ii will have the task of turning the alien company around 12 months later henry ford passes away by this time the company he founded has produced more than 31 million vehicles ford releases a car simply called ford

it’s the first all-new automobile introduced by any of the big three car companies after world war ii it’s credited with saving ford and bringing a new streamlined car fast forward to 1955. bill haley has americans rocking around the clock drivers want something fun and sporty chevy’s corvette has been on the streets for a few years ford releases the thunderbird it’s two-seat convertible with a v8 engine it’s not marketed as a sports car it starts its own market segment the personal luxury car henry ii’s greatest dream is to overtake the family’s decade-long rival general motors general motors main market is in medium priced cars ford released the edsel to compete in this market ford and vets heavily in this car they run a year-long teaser campaign they say that exo will be the car of the future but it’s overhyped when it launches the edsel is considered unattractive and overpriced it’s one of ford’s biggest failures but strangely enough today people are now starting to collect them ford recovers with a mustang once again ford creates an entirely new class of cars this is the pony class affordable sporty cars chevy follows with the camaro and pontiac brings out the firebird the mustang is also credited for inspiring the design of toyota’s celica it’s 1966 henry ii decides it’s time to break away from the old logo design he hires the famous paul rand who comes up with a radical new design you’ve probably never seen it that’s because henry ii wisely decided to stick with the original ford logo the original logo was developed by child wills he used his grandfather’s stencil set which was based on the style of writing taught when he and henry ford were at school the blue oval made its appearance a little later in the 1927 model a car now it’s 1973 and the oil crisis hits the increase in fuel prices results in some big changes in the american market people can’t afford to drive big cars they need smaller cars that are more fuel efficient imports from japan begin to flood the market if you watched our video on how toyota got so big you’ll have seen that the japanese car makers faced the same problem back in japan in the 1930s they couldn’t compete with ford and general motors who had set up manufacturing companies there now the wheel is turned and it’s american cars that can’t compete but one thing history teaches us is that things change and then change again henry ii doesn’t like small cars but he approves the development of the pinto he brashly predicts the 1978 that ford will drive imports back into the sea well he was wrong on that one this does not happen of course but pinto is a winner the word pinto was spanish for spotted it’s not a breed but used to describe a horse that has large pitches of white or any other color now you’re thinking what’s with all the horses did someone at ford really like horses first mustang then pinhole and not forgetting bronco well turns out the mustang was named after world war ii p-51 mustang fighter plane of course the fighter plane was named after the wild mustang horse bronco is the word american cowboys used to describe an untrained horse ford brought out the bronco in 1966 two years after the mustang then there was the panel which was marketed as a little carefree car and much later there was the ford ranger it isn’t just ford dodge brought out the colt in 1971 they also produced a charger mitsubishi has cuda which means horse in indonesian there’s the brumby from subaru yondai has equest which means horse in latin and an earlier model called pony even rolls royce has one the kamag is a breed of horse in the south of france so what is with all the horse names well the obvious reason is that horses replace cars and transportation so there was historic and nostalgic connection but horses are also powerful and beautiful and move fast so car makers use horse names to suggest their car has the same characteristics then of course horses represent freedom so do cars when henry ford made cars available to the ordinary man he gave him the freedom to drive wherever he wanted so long as he stuck to the road of course back to ford’s story ford reports profits of 3.3 billion compared to gm’s 2.95 billion it’s the first time since 1924 that ford has beaten gm on the bottom line henry ford ii has the satisfaction of beating gm even if only in a financial sense a few years on

the economy is booming fuel prices are low ford acquired jaguar cars and aston martin things begin to change at the beginning of the 21st century the road becomes very bumpy for ford bill ford the great grandson of henry ford becomes president he’s the first ford to head the company since his uncle henry ford ii retired in 1982 he must drive the company through a challenging landscape fuel prices have risen ford sales are declining stocks are falling it’ll take some huge changes to bring the company back to profitability ford unveils a plan called the way forward it covers resizing the company dropping on profitable models 14 factories close and 30 000 jobs are cut they’re also looking at hybrid technologies ford team up with southern california edison to examine the plug-in hybrids let’s pause for a moment now this is not edison’s company even though it has his name thomas edison allowed electric utility companies to use his patents as long as they also used his name but there’s a connection and now you’ve got these two names working together it’s been a long road to electric cars for ford started at the beginning of the 20th century with henry and edison working on electric technology it’s also at the very end of the century that ford releases ev vehicles the ford ranger and then later the ford focus electric while we’re talking about technology let’s take a look at the evolution of the assembly line the speed at which they can now make a car would have made henry ford a very happy man it’s now 1980 and robots are installed the fiesta is one of the first cars in the world where a robot injects its anti-corrosion sealant by the early 21st century hundreds of robots are fastening things together by 2012 the robots get eyes while not actualized but they can detect positions of objects then robots get cup hands to install windshields and fenders on the ford escape by 2010 high-tech dirt detection systems replaced the human eye when it came to fine imperfections modular assemblies are introduced to cater for increased vehicle options looking forward 3d will probably play a huge role in the auto industry manufacturing by 1913 the first moving assembly line enables ford to produce a chassis in one hour 33 minutes by 2013 100 years later ford is making an entire car in 86 seconds now it’s 2008 and the financial crisis hits america ford sells jaguar and land rover to tata motors for 2.3 billion four years later things improve a bit they buy majority share and argo ai a self-driving car startup jim hackett becomes ceo he’s been running the ford smart mobility program a unit responsible for experimenting with car sharing programs self-driving ventures and other programs fast forward to 2018 and there’s a shocking announcement ford will discontinue passenger cars in the north american market for the next four years except for the mustang and a new vehicle this new vehicle is the ford fusion it comes in gas hybrid and plug-in powertrain options it has a lot of smart technology including the ford pass connect which allows the car to go online as a hotspot ninety percent of ford’s north american portfolio will be trucks utilities and commercial vehicles it’s been an eventful drive to the history of the car company that changed the world henry ford left a legacy that shaped our society in so many ways he introduced processes that changed not only the auto industry but reached all manufacturing industries around the whole world but most importantly he achieved this vision of making cars available for every average american family if you like this episode please support us by sharing the video foreign