Life without cars in the modern world seems to be nearly impossible. Without cars, there would have been inefficiency and time wastage in the movement of people and goods from one point to another. However, one man contributed to the revolution of the transport system; Henry Ford. Ford is renowned for changing the lifestyle of the Americans the production system in the 1900’s by inventing some of the first automobiles. Furthermore, he made the cost of owning cars much more affordable for the average American citizen. This was made possible by the invention of a mass production assembling for Model T. The mass production technique was later adopted by several firms and it is still in use to-date. This is one of the greatest inventions in the automobile industry.
History of Henry Ford
In July 30th, 1863, Mary Litogot Ford and William Ford got their first born son, Henry Ford, in Dearborn, Michigan. At a tender age, Ford was never interested in doing farm work such as tending to the crops and animals as he considered them so boring. Instead, he was so much interested in machinery work at the McCormick Mechanical Reaper. As other boys his age were deeply engrossed with sports, Ford would be playing with his favorite toys; tools and machines. Ford would dismantle machines and fix them back. At the age thirteen, Ford’s mother passed on twelve days after giving birth to her eighth child who also passed away. Her death made Henry so depressed since he blamed himself for her mother’s death as he felt he had done something wrong.
Early signs of interest in invention of cars
At fifteen, Henry was so determined to invent a car. His dislike for school made him not pass his eighth grade, and thus he ended up working for various machinery plants and thereafter built Edison Illuminating Company, which was a machine shop that majorly assisted the local farmers in repair of their steam engines. One of his first inventions was the Quadra Cycle, which he drove on June 4th, 1896. This was the sixth gas-powered car to be built in America. The Quadra cycle was important in facilitating the movement of people from one point to another. It proved to be faster than walking since people needed to travel long distances. This invention made transportation easier, faster and more convenient. However, Ford wanted to invent a car that would be readily available, durable and cheaper for the common citizen.
Establishment of the Ford Motor Company
In 1903, Ford established a motor company, Ford Motor Company, with other investors such as John and Horace Dodge. The starting capital of the company was twenty eight thousand dollars. The company was able to produce one thousand seven hundred Model A cars, which were very cost-friendly but still beyond the reach of ordinary American citizens. In a span of five years, the company had produced various models ranging from letter B to S. The Model N was the most successful with price of five hundred dollars while the Model K was least successful which was worth two thousand five hundred dollars. This acted as an eye opener to the company that for a mass market, the cheaper the car model, the more successful it is. Therefore, Ford Motor Company came up with the Model T. This sturdy four-cylinder horse powered car had a top most speed of forty-five miles per hour. It had red color on its body and gray and green on the rest of the parts. By 1903, the company had been able to sell about six hundred and fifty Model T cars. The model hit the market in 1908 and by 1926 the American motor industry had been flooded by this model of cars. This was made possible by offering of attractive prices of eight hundred and fifty dollars per car. This made the company make tremendous profitability.
Establishment of an assembly line
In 1908, automobiles were regarded to be preserves for the elite in the society. In 1913, Ford had built the Highland Park plant that would change this notion. This became the largest automobile plant at the time, and he came up with an assembly line. This was a new mechanism of manufacturing where workers were supposed to specialize in their area of operation. Therefore, one was to work on his field of specialization before the product could then be passed on to the next worker in the manufacturing process. This facilitated mass production of cars from the manufacturing plants. This made production of cars cheaper, faster and more efficient.
On average, it approximately took ninety minutes to assemble a car by 1913. Eventually, the company would produce up to eight thousand cars daily. This represented an increase in manufacturing of cars by about forty per cent. The company was able to establish more plants in Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada and South America after 1913 so as to enjoy economies of scale in production. This made the company one of the largest car manufacturers in the world at the time.
The efficiency of production due to the introduction of the assembly line made the prices of the Model T drop from nine hundred and fifty dollars to four hundred and ninety dollars that is roughly equal to eight thousand five hundred dollars worth of an automobile today. Ford paid his workers better than any other manufacturing firm. He paid about double what was being offered to workers at other firms as most of them were paid an average of two dollars and fifty cents after working for twelve hours. This prompted most laborers to beg to be employed at Ford’s company as it was well paying. He argued that if the workers were paid more, the company would be able to increase their job satisfaction. Therefore, this would reduce the rate of employee turnover. Through this industrial and economical criterion, the company made a profit of thirty million dollars. Thereafter, Henry concentrated on other world issues not related to the car industry such as advocating for peace at the onset of World War I by sending a peace ship to Norway. In 1917, Ford began to set up a mass production complex Rouge River in Dearborn that would be able to manufacture all car components in a single plant. After unsuccessfully running for the Senate seat in 1918, Ford named his son, Edsel Ford, as the president of Ford Company. He then began the publication of a journal named ‘The Dearborn Independent’, which was largely criticized for its demeaning remarks about Jews.
People began demanding more luxurious cars, and this halted the production of Model T, which were replaced by Model A. A total of five million model A cars were sold in the first year of production. This was far much less than the sales of Model T. The Ford Foundation was established during this time as a centre of scientific research and for charity purposes. Funds were obtained from the sales of Model T. Large firms began to be established. Labor unions also came up to protect the workers against exploitation from their employers. The company’s workers had not joined any labor union. The workers protested in order be allowed to join one of the labor unions in 1937 but were beaten by people who were suspected to work for the company. The National Labor Relations Board accused the company of unfair labor practices. In 1941, Henry Ford signed a contract that would meet workers’ demand after the workers went on strike.
Demise of Henry Ford
Ford died a rich man at the age of eighty-three in 1947 with net worth of between five hundred million dollars to seven hundred million dollars. He will forever be remembered for changing the lifestyle of Americans into a much simpler life by coming up with the Model T that movement from one point to another very convenient.
The success attributed to the Ford Motor Company cannot be detached from the hard work and commitment of its founder, Henry Ford. His invention of the assembly line is what has made the company become the successful business that it is today. His legacy continues to supersede his death.
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