As Ford Motor Co. celebrates a century after Henry Ford's assembly line commenced operations on Oct. 7, 1913, the carmaker now finds itself producing vehicles around the world, with Asian output becoming more significant as years go by. In fact, Ford is assembling more vehicles in China and other parts of Asia than in Europe.
Likewise, the carmaker is expected to have the capacity to build more vehicles in Asia by 2015 than the number of cars and trucks it produced in North America in 2012. A hundred years ago, Henry Ford’s Model T became the first car for millions of customers, particularly in the US. Now, a growing number of middle class in China means that more people will become vehicle owners for the first time.
Joe Hinrichs, the boss of Americas for Ford who once led the carmaker’s Asian operations, remarked that having one’s first vehicle is a big deal, saying that it is the “freedom that comes from the ability to own your own transportation that's never been had in your family.”
True, the situation for China’s middle class might be similar to the case of customers who had their first vehicles 100 years ago. In a report in September, Morgan Stanley said that it values Ford's Chinese operations at $15 billion (CHY92 billion), which is more than a fifth of Ford's stock-market value.
Adam Jonas, an analyst for Morgan Stanley, quipped that the rollout of Ford's plants, products and dealer network in China has been "breathtaking." This is despite Ford still lagging behind General Motors and Volkswagen Group in the Asian country.
“One hundred years ago, my great-grandfather had a vision to build safe and efficient transportation for everyone,” said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “I am proud he was able to bring the freedom of mobility to millions by making cars affordable to families and that his vision of serving people still drives everything we do today.” [source: Ford]