US producer of cars and trucks, including Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, and Volvo. The company, based in Detroit, Michigan, is the world's third largest motor manufacturer after General Motors and Toyota, producing 6.55 million vehicles at around 100 plants and facilities worldwide in 2007. Nevertheless, the previous year the company reported its biggest ever annual loss of $12.7 billion due to declining sales. Ford also owns the Hertz Corporation, the world's largest car rental company, and a one-third interest in the Mazda Motor Corporation.
Ford was founded in 1903 in Detroit, Michigan, by Henry Ford. The company began with ten people in a converted wagon shop, and the first car, called the Model A, was sold that year to a local physician. The Model T, introduced in 1908 and assembled from 1913 on a moving conveyor belt at the Highland Park plant in Michigan, was immensely popular and by 1915 Ford had produced 1 million cars. Trucks (Model TT) and tractors were first produced in 1917. When the replacement for the Model T car was introduced in 1928, Ford renamed it the Model A. Ford purchased the Lincoln Motor Company in 1922, and the Mercury line began in 1939. More recently, the company purchased Aston Martin Lagonda in 1987, Jaguar Cars in 1989, Volvo in 1999, and Land Rover in 2000. In 2007 it sold most of its holding in Aston Martin to a consortium headed by British entrepreneur David Richards, and in 2008 agreed to sell Jaguar and Land Rover to Indian conglomerate Tata in a $2 billion deal.
Ford closed its British car production plant at Dagenham in east London in 2002 after 71 years and now manufactures diesel engines there.