Saturday, February 1, 2014

Henry Ford

Henry Ford didn't invent the automobile. But he did invent the automotive assembly line, and the Model Ts that poured off that line made cars affordable for ordinary people for the first time, changing car culture, American culture, and global culture forever. Though it's no longer the leader, Ford Motor Company hasn't lost all its luster. It's still a top 5 car marker domestically, and it's the only one of the Big Three that kept its head above water during last decade's economic crisis, thanks to a diverse range of offerings and a saavy international business strategy.

Minority ownership in Mazda of Japan has allowed Ford to use the Mazda2 platform as the basis for the basis fo the Fiesta hatch or sedan, which it sells in Europe and elsewhere. The Ford Focus has been sold in Europe for generations, with higher craftsmanship and driving dynamics than many of Ford's other cars, which has finally also been brought to American models. The new Ford Fusion has also been served well by Ford’s European branch, with impressive road manners and style to spare. Atop the sedan range is the long-standing Taurus badge, available in four flavors from the FWD SE up to the AWD performance Taurus SHO. Meanwhile, the Mustang, originally introduced in 1964, has remained one of the most iconic cars in the world. Though Ford sadly retired the Mustang Boss 302 this year, its Mustang continues to be the top muscle car on the market, and a coming 2015 redesign promises to bring fresh thrills.

Last year, Ford went directly after the Toyota Prius, bringing the C-Max car/ to the US market with a traditional Hybrid powertrain, or Ford’s Energi powertrain that adds a plug-in hybrid options. Hybrid and Energi powertrains are also available on the Fusion while a full electric Focus will be available soon. These cars aren't yet matching Toyota's for quality or gas mileage, but they have their adherents.

Ford also does well with its SUV segment. The Escape CUV shares a platform with the Focus, but feels like twice the size, and has been a big seller and a huge success for FMC. The Edge offers a little more room and little more power, it's still more or less meant to be a family soccer van. The Explorer SUV shares a platform with the Taurus and has some offroad capability, while the aging Expedition has even more, but it's well overdue for an update. With no minivan in the lineup, Ford loyalists can and have flocked to the Flex Crossover with seating for up to seven and a fun minimalist square design.


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