| Wednesday, February 01, 2006
| FORD MOTORS: DRIVING TOWARD A SNAZZIER STYLE
|Profits may be scarce in Detroit, but it's a bountiful time in design, judging by the new products for the 2007 model-year. Carmakers plan to launch more than 60 vehicles, starting next month, swelling auto malls with all manner of compacts, coupes,wagons, minivans, muscle cars and SUVs. For manufacturers, producing acar that stands out is getting tougher every year. And as Ford and GM are painfully aware, if your metal does'nt shine in the style department -- and you can't beat your rivals on performance or reliability -- all you can offer is a cut-rate deal, a path to financial ruin. What's a carmaker to do?
At Ford, the road map looks like this: assemble a squad of ace designers. Put the engineers, bean counters and marketers in the backseat. Wait for the artists to produce gorgeous metal and interior. Then pray the company execute.
BORN IN THE U.S.A.
*1903 Henry Ford launches the Ford Motor Co. with about $30,000 in cash after teh failure of his Detroit Automobile Co.
*1904 In skunk works on the third floor of the Piquette Avenue plant, Ford and his engineers experiment with lighter-weight materials that allow the company to mass-produce cars.
*1905 Named for it's engine, Ford's Model T puts America on wheels as the first mass produced car; Ford builds more than 15 million over 19 years.
*1914 Ford introduces the $5-a-day wage at a new factory in Highland Park, Michigan.
*1917 Ford begins 11 years of construction of the Rouge complex in Dearborn, Michigan, which becomes an Icon of American industry, an ore-to-assembly, completely vertical enterprise.
*1927 To replace the Model T, Ford launches the second Model A. (The orignal was built in 1903.) The company sells 4 million of them.
*1920s Ford dominates automobile production, with 55percent of output in 1921 and nearly 65percent in 1924. But by 1931, General Motors eclipses a flailing Ford to become the world's largest automaker.
*1930s Auto sales drop; labor unrest rises, as does the U.A.W; Congress passes labor-relations laws as part of the New Deal.
*1937 Years of resisting union efforts come to a head at the Battle of the Overpass. In 1941 the U.A.W. organizes Ford.
*1940s In the U.S., Ford factories, including its famed Willow Run plant, churn out tanks, cannons and planes for the war effort.
*1945 Henry Ford II becomes president of Ford Motor.
*1956 Ford goes public, but the founding family maintains control with class-B shares that carry disproportionate voting power.
*1958 The Ford Edsel is a famous $400 million flop, its failure blamed on its name, styling and launch timing.
*1960 Robert McNamara is named president; he leaves for a job as Kennedy's Defense Secretary.
*1964 Mustang is a hit,a sports car for Everyman, with options that added to profits.
*1970s The Pinto's infamous fuel-system defects and the oil crisis are setbacks for Ford.
*1978 Lee Iacocca, the mind behind Mustang, clashes with Henry II and is fired, then becomes Chrysler's CEO.
*1986 A design Icon, the Taurus reinvigorates the company and sets the standard for aerodynamic exteriors; other automakers follow suit.
*1987 Henry Ford II dies, and William Clay (Bill) Ford Jr. joins the board of directeors in 1988.
*1999 Jacques Nasser becomes CEO with a mandate to shake things up; Bill Ford is named chairman.
*2000 Firestone tires on Ford explorers are blamed for rollovers and deaths.
*2001 Bill Ford takes over as CEO after firing Nasser, whose aggressive restructuring rolls the firm; costs from the Explorer mess lead to losses of $5.5 billion.
*2002 Bill Ford vows to make Ford greener. The company returns to profitability but continues to lose share.
(Source: abstracted from TIMEMAG/BUSINESS by: Dorinda Elliott/Detroit)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 4:33 AM