100 Years And Counting As Ford Looks Forward To Second Century Of Success
Ford Motor Company celebrates its 100th birthday next month with a star-studded concert and fireworks display at its Henry Ford II World Center headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, and a series of memorable events – from competitions to classic car shows – in more than 100 cities across the United States. Books, documentaries and collectible merchandise are also in the pipeline as Ford takes stock of a memorable century.
Closer to home, Ford Middle East is celebrating the day, 100 years ago, when Henry Ford put the world on wheels with its best-ever annual unit sales in the region, 20 per cent plus sales growth in the first quarter of 2003, and the launch of a special centennial edition of its best-known car in the Gulf – the long wheelbase Ford Crown Victoria full-size passenger sedan – in Saudi Arabia.
Reinforcing its commitment to the community in the Middle East, where Ford’s history goes back more than 50 years, the company has also marked the centennial year by recently launching the Ford Motor Company Conservation & Environmental Grants for the fourth consecutive year in the GCC and the third straight year in the Levant. Once again, a total of US$90,000 is available to worthy volunteer causes in the region.
Music legends Earth, Wind & Fire will head the bill at a celebrity-packed concert, titled ‘The Road Is Ours’, at Ford’s Dearborn HQ in the United States on June 13. Beyonce Knowles, better known as the face of pop outfit Destiny’s Child and Austin Powers’ sultry sidekick in his latest James Bond-spoof sensation Gold Member, is also set to take the stage before a crowd of top Ford executives, international media, valued customers and long-serving employees.
A national road show will then hit top gear as Ford’s senior management emulate the legendary people skills of the company’s founding father and criss-cross America to meet customers, dealers, community leaders and Ford classic car enthusiasts. Touring history exhibitions and car displays are also on the cards, featuring ride and drives in replica models of the car that started the Ford phenomenon – the Model T Ford.
Jim Benintende, managing director of Ford Middle East, said: “2003 is a landmark year for Ford in the Middle East as it is for the company the world over. Record sales, new product launches, and an expanding dealership network across the region are the perfect platform for continued growth and success.
“The 2003 Ford Crown Victoria Long Wheelbase Centennial Edition, launched in Riyadh earlier this month, is already proving a hit with customers and will undoubtedly become a highly collectible version of a model that has sold more than 50,000 units in the Kingdom to date.”
Benintende added: “Ford can look back on 50 memorable years in the Middle East and look forward to many successful years to come. As Bill Ford said recently, history is about the past while heritage is history with a future.”
BIRTH OF A LEGEND
On June 16, 1903, Henry Ford and 11 investors created the company that would go on to produce the first mass-produced car and establish Ford as the best-selling motor brand in the USA and the second-largest automobile-maker in the world. A century and more than 250 million vehicles later, Ford is still setting the standards for power, comfort, safety, technology and value for money.
As its creator memorably put it, the Model T was available in any colour as long as it was black. Black paint dried the quickest, reducing production time and therefore helping to pass on unbeatable savings to customers.
By the mid-1920s more than 10 million Ford cars had been built, and the company’s reputation as the leading international manufacturer of vehicles for the masses was firmly established.
Memorable cars that broaden the horizons of ordinary people are still a hallmark of Ford Motor Company in 2003. The only car to win Car Of The Year accolades on both sides of the Atlantic, the Ford Focus is in many ways the modern Ford Model T – ubiquitous, convenient, easy to drive, cheap to own, and excellent value for money.
Promising unusually refined driving dynamics for a small car and impressively low cost of ownership, Ford’s C-segment leader was officially the world’s best-selling car in 2000 and 2001 – an achievement that would have made Ford’s founder proud.
A NEW LOGO
The Ford oval is one of the most distinctive company trademarks in the world. Yet this unmistakable design has evolved subtly over the years from its original black-on-white form.
From June 17, 2003, the first day of Ford Motor Company’s second century, Ford will launch the centennial oval as the company’s new corporate identity.
A modernised version of the classic oval, the ‘refreshed’ design will be the symbol for both corporate communications and Ford-branded cars and trucks. It will also enjoy pride of place atop Ford’s world HQ in Dearborn, Michigan.
Jan Valentic, vice president, Global Marketing, Ford Motor Company, said: “The Ford oval is a powerful symbol. As we head into our next century, we want to make it clear that the same symbol will lead the industry based on three simple values – great products, a strong business and a better world.”
INVESTING IN PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES
The thought of receiving more than twice your salary for a shorter working day would be an idle daydream for most people. But Henry Ford turned wishful thinking into a reality in 1914 when he decided to increase the daily wage at his Highland Park Model T plant from US$2.34 for nine hours to US$5.00 for eight. Overnight, staff turnover was slashed dramatically and the company became inundated with eager job applicants.
This principle of investing in people and communities continues at Ford today with programmes like the Ford Motor Company Conservation & Environmental Grants. A global initiative, aimed at promoting sustainable environmental projects and greater local awareness of environmental and conservation issues, the Ford Grants have donated millions of dollars to assist the work of countless dedicated volunteers across more than 50 countries.
Nearly US$250,000 has been awarded to volunteer groups in the Middle East so far – from whale researchers in Oman to marine conservationists in Jordan – since the programme made its debut in the region in 2000. This year the Grants celebrate their fourth year in the GCC and third year in the Levant, and, if the growing response to the initiative is anything to go by, more applications than ever can be expected in 2003.
If the Model T put the world on wheels, a succession of equally memorable Ford vehicles has maintained the fascination of people around the globe with the open road.
From James Dean’s Ford Thunderbird in the groundbreaking film Rebel Without A Cause to the lethally seductive silver Aston Martin of James Bond, Ford cars have served as both cultural reference points and faithful, functional servants.
While many people in the Middle East today associate Ford with the likes of the Crown Victoria passenger sedan or newer vehicles like the Ford Focus, Ford’s history began in the region with the F-Series pick-up truck. The Ford F-1 introduced the nameplate in 1948 and the truck has served as the workhorse of countries around the world ever since. It is the best-selling vehicle in the Unites States and has been for the last 26 years. Nearly 29 million have been made so far.
Launched at the New York World’s fair in 1964, the Ford Mustang has earned its reputation as a true automotive icon. Named after a World War II fighter plane, the car perfectly reflected the ‘Swinging 60s’ mood of confidence, excitement, ambition and change.
Numerous revisions over the years have remained true to the essential styling cues of the classic Mustang sports car – such as the pony and corral emblem and tri-bar tail lights – and it comes as no surprise that drivers in the USA named the car ‘America’s Favourite Car’ in a recent poll on a top automotive website. Today, Mustang remains the number-one-selling convertible in the United States and a hugely popular choice with thrill-seeking drivers in the Middle East. Its all-new 2005 model that's based on the latest Mustang GT concept promises to capture the hearts and minds of consumers from first sight.
The Ford Escort made its debut in 1981 and was dubbed the first ‘world car’ because it was produced in both North America and Europe. For many years it was the best-selling car in the world and the Escort went on to inspire the now equally successful Ford Focus.
To evolve and remain successful over 100 years requires strength in adversity. In the biting recession of the early 1980s, the Ford Taurus rejuvenated the company and became an instant hit. The car re-defined the sedan segment following its debut in 1985 and it remains one of the top-10 selling vehicles in the United States today. From 1992 to 1996, the Taurus was Ford’s best-selling car in America.
Appearing on Middle East roads in 1987, the Ford Crown Victoria has claimed a special place in the affections of customers across the region demanding its unique combination of comfort, space, handling, rear wheel drive and V8 power. More than 50,000 units have been sold in Saudi Arabia alone and the recent launch of a special long wheelbase centennial edition of the nameplate in the Kingdom will see Ford’s classic full-size passenger sedan scale new heights.
Launched in 1990, the Ford Explorer put the SUV on the world map and remains the best-selling sports utility vehicle in the United States 13 years later. The latest generation of the Explorer went on sale in the Middle East in 2001 and its reputation for power, comfort and the latest safety technology, such as its optional air-curtain Safety Canopy, has made a big impression on customers across the region.
DID YOU KNOW?
Henry Ford was born and raised on a farm in Dearborn, Michigan, where Ford Motor Company is based today. He was the first of six children born to William and Mary Ford.
Ford’s first car was in fact the Model A. The company worked through the alphabet producing new models and experimental vehicles and, in 1908, Ford reached the now famous Model T.
Henry Ford pioneered the introduction of the moving assembly line after observing how meat moved down the line from butcher to butcher in a meat packing plant.
When Henry Ford doubled the pay of factory employees to US$5 a day in 1914, some business and political leaders predicted social unrest and a global recession.
More than 15 million Model T Fords were made in 19 years. In 1927, the car gave way to an all-new Model A.
In 1945, Henry Ford II was elected president of the company at the tender age of 28. He put together a management team dubbed the ‘whiz kids’ and introduced some of the company’s most famous nameplates, including the ’49 Ford, Thunderbird, Falcon, and the Escort. -8-
Henry II was also responsible for the legendary GT40, the company’s most successful racing car. In 1966 the GT40 came first, second and third in the 24-hours Le Mans endurance race, and went on to win the competition for the next three years.
ABOUT FORD MOTOR COMPANY
Ford Motor Company, which has its headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, is the world's second largest automaker, with approximately 335,000 employees in 200 markets across six continents.
Its automotive brands include Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. Automotive-related services include Ford Credit, Quality Care and Hertz.
Ford Motor Company’s history in the Middle East goes back more than 50 years. The company’s local dealers operate more than 40 facilities in the GCC and directly employ more than 3,500 people, the majority of whom are Arab Nationals. Ford Motor Company celebrates its 100th anniversary on June 16, 2003.