Company Internationalization and European Works Councils in the Automotive Sector
Chapter 10: Ford of Europe
217 Chapter 10: Ford of Europe 10.1 The Ford Group in Europe 10.1.1 History and characteristics of the Ford Motor Company The Ford Motor Company, founded on 16 June 1903 by Henry Ford and eleven other shareholders in Dearborn/Michigan, is one of the world’s longest-established auto- motive companies. With some 179,000 employees at eighty-eight plants (2008) the company operates in 200 markets.218 Its product range encompasses cars, vans and cross-country vehicles, supplemented by its own vehicle related financial services company. Ford Motor Company continues to be effectively controlled by the Ford family through the size of their ownership of voting stock, despite a small holding of overall equity in the company.219 The company’s greatest innovation, which was to revolutionise the entire auto- motive industry, took place on 1 April 1913 at the Highland Park plant in Michigan when it initiated assembly line production, beginning the epoch of mass produc- tion. Combined with the relatively simply constructed standard car, the legendary Model T, which was produced for many years, Ford set a benchmark for industrial production in the first half of the Twentieth Century, making ownership of a car feasible for wide groups of consumers. The declared aim of building a car that would be affordable for any worker was achieved by offering a minimal level of equipment and the use of a single colour. During the 1920s competitors – primarily General Motors – positioned them- selves with higher value cars in the mass market, with purchase financed by their own credit...
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