Ford's Revitalization Strategy Essay

9321 Words 38 Pages
Case 4

Ford and the World Automobile Industry
Robert M. Grant
In September 2003, Bruce Blythe took up the new position as chief strategy officer at Ford Motor Company. His appointment came in the wake of a massive upheaval of Ford’’s strategy, leadership, and organization. In 2001, Ford’’s CEO Jacques Nasser had been ousted by the board after a three-year tenure. Nasser’’s goal had been to transform Ford into a flexible, customer-focused, innovative, global giant——that simultaneously paid careful attention to profitability and shareholder return. By late 2001, it was clear that the strategy was not working. Overpriced acquisitions had dissipated shareholder value, the Firestone-Ford Explorer recall
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Early motorcars demonstrated a bewildering variety of technologies. During the early years, the internal-combustion engine vied with the steam engine. Among internal-combustion engines there was a wide variety of cylinder configurations. Transmission systems, steering systems, and brakes all displayed a remarkable variety of technologies and designs, as well as considerable ingenuity. Over the years the technologies and designs of different manufactured parts tended to converge as many approaches (and their manufacturers) were eliminated through competition. The Ford Model T represented the first ““dominant design”” in automobiles –– the technologies and design features of the Model T set a standard for other manufacturers to imitate. Convergence of technologies of designs was the dominant trend of the next ninety years. During the 1920s, all manufacturers adopted enclosed, all-steel bodies. During the last few decades of the 20th century most models with distinctively different designs disappeared: the VW Beetle with its rear, air-cooled engine, the Citroen 2-CV and its idiosyncratic braking and suspension system, Daft with its ““Variomatic”” transmission, and the distinctive models made by Eastern European manufacturers, such as the 3-cylinder Wartburg and the 2-cycle Trabant. Engines became more similar: typically 4 or 6 cylinders arranged in-line, with V-6 and V-8

configurations for larger cars. Front-wheel drive and disc, anti-lock brakes

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