Ford Motor began a manufacturing revolution with mass production assembly lines in the early 20th century, but today it is one of the world's largest automakers. The carmaker's staple of brands and models includes the Ford Mustang, the F-Series pickup, Focus, Lincoln, Fiesta, and Taurus. In addition, finance unit Ford Motor Credit is one of the US's leading auto finance companies and accounted for 6% of Ford's sales in 2014. Ford owns a small stake in Mazda and operates about 65 plants worldwide. The company generated 65% of its sales from North America in 2014.
Ford global reach is vast, and it generates 57% of its total sales from the US. Other sizable markets include Canada (7% of sales), the UK (8%), and Germany (5%).
Ford manages its global operations through joint ventures. It has partnered with companies in China, Germany, Taiwan, Turkey, and Vietnam, among others. Ford Otosan, Ford's joint venture with Turkey-based Koç Holding, supplies the Ford Transit Connect and distributes Ford cars in Turkey.
Sales and Marketing
Ford's vehicles, parts, and accessories are marketed through retail dealers in North America and through distributors and dealers outside of North America. Most of the dealerships are independently owned. In 2014 Ford had a network of more than 11,980 dealerships worldwide. Its advertising expenses were $4.3 million in 2014, $4.4 million in 2013, and $4 million in 2012.
Ford's 2014 revenues decreased by 2%, driven by a 3% decline in its automotive sales (a collective 6% drop from North America); this decline offset a 10% surge in financial services sales during 2014.
The company’s net income in 2014 also plummeted 55% from $7.2 billion in 2013 to $3.2 billion in 2014 primarily due to an additional $1.2 billion it paid in income taxes. Ford's operating cash flow in 2014 increased to $14.5 billion compared to 2013, primarily due to increases in accounts payable.
Reflecting a growing global auto market, in 2014, Ford embarked on its most aggressive product launch schedule in its history with the launch of 24 all-new or significantly refreshed vehicles around the world (Ford will continue with 15 new global product launches in 2015).
In a bold design move, in 2014 it launched an aluminum body version of its best-selling Ford-150 model. The new lighter-weight 2015 F150s offer increased gas mileage. Ford has worked to improve vehicle fuel efficiency in other areas, launching hybrid models, such as the 2013 Fusion, available with hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains. The company is also promising upgraded engines and powertrain transmissions, such as the 2.0 liter EcoBoost.
Like many other car makers, the company is also looking to emerging economies for growth, particularly Brazil, Russia, India, and China, where cars sales are forecast to grow more rapidly than in mature markets. Ford is building new plants in India, Thailand, and especially China to meet more demand in the region. In 2013 Ford entered the South Asia market of Myanmar, which it views as a key strategic location between India and China, next to a shared border with Thailand.
In 2013 Ford accelerated its growth plan in Russia with a $274 million New Engine Plant in Elabuga, Tatarstan (the first passenger car engine plant in the region) and Launch of Ford EcoSport SUV. In the same year it also increased its North American capacity by 200,000 Units, reduced its summer shutdown, and invested $150 million in its Buffalo Stamping Plant (adding some 350 new jobs at the facility to support future product growth).
Mergers and Acquisitions
To accelerate innovation, in 2013 Ford acquired Michigan-based software development startup Livio, enabling both companies to work toward developing an industry standard for smartphone-to-vehicle communications.