Ford Motor Company, otherwise simply called Ford, is an American automaker with headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, which is outside of Detroit. The company was founded in 1903 by Henry Ford and now sells vehicles around the world. Their commercial line and automobile line is sold under the Ford name while the luxury cars are sold under the Lincoln name.
Ford is the creator of large-scale production of vehicles by using assembly lines. The methods are often referred to as Fordism. They are the second-largest automaker based in the United States (the first is GM) plus the fifth-largest across the world. Even though the company is public now, the family of Ford still retains 40% of the voting rights through Class B shares. They have more than 200,000 employees working at over 90 facilities and plants worldwide.
Henry Ford first attempted to make a car company with his name in 1901, called the Henry Ford Company. Later, in 1902, it went on to become the Cadillac Motor Company. Then, Ford gave up the rights to use his name.
In 1903, Ford converted a factory with $28,000 received from twelve investors. Some of these investors included Horace and John Dodge, who later went on to create their own company. This is the start of the Ford Motor Company.
The company’s first president wasn’t actually Ford, but instead John S. Gray who was a local banker. In the beginning, Ford produced only a few cars each day. This was accomplished with a few men that worked on each vehicle. Over the next decade, Ford would perfect the refinement and expansion of an assembly line.
Carl Benz is responsible for the first gasoline automobile in 1885, but efficiency was needed. With better processes, vehicles were affordable to the middle class, which is what Ford wanted to accomplish. That’s why he worked tirelessly on creating an assembly line.
At the time of the company’s creation, Ford was just 39 years old. Despite that, the company became one of the most profitable and largest in the world. It’s also been under family control for more than 100 years, making it one of the biggest companies across the globe that is run by a family.
In the five years from 1903 through 1908, the company produced several models. They were all labeled with a letter and included the Model A, B, C, F, K, N, R, and S. In fact, the Model T, which was produced in 1908, sold millions within just 20 years. Then, in 1927, the Model T was replaced with the A, which had safety glass for the windshield.
In 1922, Henry Ford later purchased Lincoln Motor Company as an avenue to compete with Cadillac for the luxury car segment. On top of that, they wanted to become a competitor of General Motors, so Ford went on to create the Mercury just a short time later in 1939.
In 1951, Ford created a scientific laboratory located in Michigan. This is where all basic research was completed and led to superconductivity discoveries. Later, in 1964, they invented the superconducting quantum interference device named SQUID.
The company was always looking to provide safety equipment to occupants. That’s why in 1956, they released the Lifeguard safety package. This included optional front and rear seatbelts, a padded dash, and a uniquely designed steering wheel that featured a deeper dish. A year later, they introduced the child-proof door locks and a fully retractable hardtop located on the company’s six-passenger vehicle.
In 1964, the company unveiled the Mustang. It was showcased during the World’s Fair in New York. This car has gone on to be one of the most popular from the Ford brand.
In the 1980s, the company released many successful vehicles. During the early 1990s, Ford acquired the Aston Martin brand as well as Jaguar Cars. But, as the new century began, Ford faced some trouble. Between higher fuel costs, a flailing economy, and larger costs for health care, the company was hurting. Their company profits mainly came from the Ford Motor Credit Company which provided consumer loans, but that wasn’t cutting it.
Henry Ford’s great-grandson went on to become the executive chairman of the company. Despite all their efforts to revitalize the company, in 2005, their corporate bonds were worth almost nothing. Bill Ford appointed Mark Fields as the new president and tasked him with regaining profitability. He did this by resizing, dropping inefficient and unprofitable models, closing down 14 factories, cutting nearly 30,000 jobs, and consolidating the production lines.
They also continued to build new Crossover SUVs to appeal to the market, plus starting experimenting with hybrid technology. Even though they had an annual loss of $12.7 billion in 2006, they were about to post $750 million in profit by 2007. In 2008 they also sold off their Land Rover and Jaguar operations for $2.3 billion to Tata Motors.
Starting in 2006, Alan Mulally was the company’s CEO. During his seven years in the position, he made $174 million, which created some tension among workers. When Donald Trump became president, Mark Fields, the company’s CEO announced that it would cancel the plan to invest money into a new Mexican plant. Instead, they decided to spend an additional $700 million to upgrade their Michigan plant which will lead to the creation of another 700 jobs. They also went on to acquire Argo AI in 2017. This company focuses on artificial intelligence and is just starting up.
They also began to focus on Ford Smart Mobility. This car-sharing design includes programs aimed at self-driving. The hope is to compete against Uber in the automotive industry. Then, in 2018, the company announced that all passenger cars sold in North America would be discontinued over four years because of a decline in demand plus profitability. The only vehicles that the company plans to continue making are the Focus Active and Mustang.
Through the years, the company has worked on finding other ways to propel their vehicles. They’ve used compressed natural gas in some Crown Victoria models, especially in taxi service and fleet vehicles. Some of the CNG cars came with dual fuel tanks.
In the European market, the company’s Focus Flexifuel became the first vehicle available that ran on E85 flexible fuel. They operate on ethanol fuel mixtures; anything from gasoline to E85, or bioethanol fuel. Part of the trouble they had marketing these in the United States was a lack of fueling stations.
Toyota and Ford worked together in 2004 to share Toyota’s hybrid technology patent. In exchange, Toyota licensed several patents from Ford as well. That same year, Ford released the Escape Hybrid vehicle. This made them the third to have a hybrid electric model, but it was the first hybrid SUV on the market. It also ran on flexible fuel so that E85 could be used. Its companion, the hybrid Mercury Mariner also became available in 2006.
The company set a lofty goal in 2005 of producing 250,000 hybrids per year by the time 2010 hit, but they didn’t meet that goal. They blamed it on a lack of supplies and high costs. Instead, they focused their energies on working with Volvo in Britain to develop new hybrid-electric power plants.
Then, in 2007, they partnered with Southern California Edison to discuss how plug-in hybrid vehicles would affect the electrical grid. Through this project, Ford created a fleet of demonstration Escape Hybrids that used plug-ins so that the SCE could evaluate the interaction with the grid. By 2008, the USDOE added the Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid Flex-Fuel vehicle to their fleet. It featured a 10-kilowatt battery which could drive 30 miles at 40 mph on electric energy.
Then, in 2009, the company launched the Ford Fusion Hybrid plus the Mercury Milan hybrid to the U.S. market. By 2014, their product line expanded to include the Escape Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid, Mondeo Hybrid. Through other brands, they also offered the Mercury Mariner Hybrid, Mercury Milan Hybrid, and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. By September of that year, they sold more than 344,000 hybrid vehicles in the U.S. That made them the second largest hybrid manufacturer in the world after Toyota.
In 2014, the company had already produced several plug-in electric vehicles. These included the Ford Ranger EV, Transit Connect, Ford TH!NK, plus the Ford Focus Electric. In 2015, sales of plug-in electric models only reached about 56,000.
One of the top executives, Bill Ford, personally used an electric vehicle, the Ranger EV. In addition, the company contacted the USPS in an effort to deliver postal vans run on electricity. Ford eventually discontinued making the Ranger EV and ordered them to be destroyed, but they later reversed that decision due to an environmental protest. From 1998 through 2002, they only leased about 200 and sold another 1,500 to fleets.
In 2017, Mark Fields, the CEO of Ford, said that they would invest another $4.5 billion to develop more plug-in electric vehicles by the year 2020. That same year, Team Edison battery-electric vehicle group began to lead their efforts to dive deeper into the EV market. This team is headquartered in Detroit plus they have offices in Asia and Europe.
Ford studies fuel cell-powered electric powertrains and continues to demonstrate hydrogen-fuel capabilities. These cars decrease overall air pollution as well as lower sound levels. Overall, they contribute to greater respiratory health and a decrease of side effects from noise.
The company first launched hydrogen-powered shuttle buses at convention centers and airports. They also showcased the hydrogen-based Explorer SUV at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show of 2006. It output 174 horsepower and featured a hydrogen storage tank in the middle of the car. The SUV had a range of 350 miles, which is the farthest for any fuel cell vehicle yet. It was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
As of 2018, the IIHS didn’t list any Ford vehicles as a Top Safety Pick. This is unusual for a brand not to at least rank with one of their vehicles. In 2017, they had two vehicles make the list: Ford F-150 and the Ford Fusion.
The Ford F-150 did receive good ratings except for the headlights and latch system. It also received a superior rating in front crash prevention. These ratings placed it second on the IIHS list behind the Honda Ridgeline.
Ford vehicles come with many safety equipment features that protect drivers and passengers on the road. With the 2019 Ford Edge, they introduced the Ford Co-Pilot 360 which is a suite of driver-assist technologies to keep drivers confident behind the wheel.
Some of their driver-assist technologies include the standard offering of many automakers such as Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane-Keeping System, Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert, and auto high-beam headlamps. Other systems include the rear view camera, Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Park Assist, and Pro Trailer Backup Assist.
When comparing Ford to other automakers, they seem to come up average regarding how many safety recalls they have. Forbes places them 9th out of 16 companies while Wards Auto puts them right at industry average.
There is one recall from the brand that is most memorable. The Ford and Firestone tire controversy is something that is known by most people. There was a period when several tires experienced high failure rates. The tires in question were the P235/75R15, ATX, ATX II, plus the Wilderness AT. They were installed on Ford Explorers and several other vehicles.
In total, these failures resulted in 271 deaths and more than 800 injuries in the U.S. alone. It led the company to recall and ultimately replace 23 million tires. In response, Firestone was forced to close their Decatur, Illinois factory. On top of that, numerous Ford and Bridgestone executives resigned or ended up being fired. This incident also lead to Congress passing the TREAD act. In the end, Ford and Firestone ended their 100-year relationship with one another.
In the court proceedings, employees at Firestone testified that they had to inspect up to 100 tires each hour which was too many to do the job properly. They also said they used benzene when tire adhesives lost tack from sitting. Benzene is a product that damages tire materials.
In 2000, Ford even had to halt the production at three of their truck plants to divert 70,000 of the tires as part of the recall. By 2001, they had to recall an additional 13 million tires which cost the company an extra $3 billion.
In a 2017 J.D. Power Customer Service Index, Ford faired average among other automakers in regards to their service. They scored 3/5 in all categories including Overall Service Satisfaction, Service Quality, and Service Installation. In a Consumer Reports study on owner satisfaction, they ranked 17th out of 30th. This is down two places from the previous year.
While Ford continues to sit at the top of the rankings for most popular brands, it doesn’t mean they are reliable vehicles. In the 2018 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, Ford continues to rank right near the middle of all automakers. Even Your Mechanic lists them in the middle of the rankings related to cost of maintenance. They estimate the Ford brand at $9,100 worth of maintenance costs over a 10-year period.
The company achieves many awards each year, but some of the most prestigious from the last few years include:
Ford Warriors in Pink is part of the company dedicated to reaching those affected by breast cancer. They raise money, support and inspire patients, survivors and their families throughout the journey. Since 1993, they donated $136 million. 100% of the net proceeds go directly to helping others.
They also donate and work with other organizations such as Susan G. Komen, Dr. Susan Love, The Pink Fund, and the Young Survival Coalition.
The Ford Motor Company Fund otherwise referred to as the Ford Fund, is based out of Dearborn, Michigan. They are the arm of the company dealing in philanthropy and began in 1949 by Henry Ford himself. It’s a nonprofit that’s financed by independent contributions. In 2016 alone, they gave $58.9 million to many different causes. Some of them focused on driving safely, building communities, and education.
One of their favorite programs is Ford Driving Skills for Life. This driver safety event is geared toward teenagers and partners with the Governors Highway Safety Association.
With all the opportunities they offer, they created the Ford Volunteer Corps. This group allows the retirees of the company plus current employees to sign up for local projects located in over 40 countries.
FoMoCo is the division responsible for selling aftermarket parts for vehicles. They use the Motorcraft name to market. This division launched in 1972 as a way to provide customers with replacement on OEM parts. At the time, they took over as the official parts brand from Autolite. While Autolite continues to sell parts for Ford vehicles, they are no longer affiliated with the company. Instead, they are now owned by FRAM.
Motorcraft parts are engineered and produced for installation in Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln vehicles. They are sold in the dealerships and auto parts stores. All products must meet the quality standards of the Ford Motor Company to be sold on a retail level.
Motorcraft also sells motor oil. Most of their varieties are synthetic blends or fully synthetic. They offer 5W-20 through 15W-40 to be used in a diesel engine.
The headquarters are located in Dearborn, Michigan. They also have more than 166,000 people working worldwide. There are production facilities located throughout the United States in New York, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, and Kentucky. The CEO of the company is Jim Hackett.
They sell cars, trucks, SUVs, and electric vehicles. They also produce Lincoln luxury cars and provide financial services through the Ford Motor Credit Company.
The company also holds many rankings with Forbes. They are listed as #67 of the Global 2000. Ford is also #42 of the World’s Most Valuable Brands. Forbes ranked them as #25 of America’s Largest Public Companies and #167 of America’s Best Employers.
The F-Series truck has been the top-selling in its segment for over forty years. It’s estimated that one in every four vehicles sold is a Ford, but 90% of the company’s profits come from the F-Series.
For 2017, Ford reported an annual sales number of $156.8 billion with a $7.6 billion income.
Ford manufactures and sells commercial vehicles and automobiles worldwide, but there are several other divisions to the company. Most of their luxury vehicles are sold under the Lincoln brand name. They also have a 2.1% stake in Mazda. At one time, they did own 33%, but Toyota stepped in to take over that partnership.
The Ford Motor Land Development is another subsidiary of the company. Their main interest is in real estate investments. They design dealerships and well as manage facilities. This company currently owns and manages over 5 million feet of commercial property just in Michigan.
The Ford Motor Credit Company is another branch. They are responsible for financing and leasing options for customers.
Jiangling Motors is the joint venture between the company and China. It’s been in existence since 1997.
Ford retains an 8% stake in Aston Martin, the British automaker. While they once owned a larger portion, the sold off most of their stake in 2007.
Motorcraft is another division of the company. They sell parts for the company, but also for other automobiles.
The original logo was designed by Childe Harold Wills, the first chief engineer. He was a friend of Henry Ford and his main profession was to create and print business cards. He used the calligraphy from his work to style the logo.
There were many changes made throughout the years. Here are the major changes that occurred:
1903-1906 – The first design was simple and streamlined. It featured the circle with an art nouveau border.
1907-1912 – The signature-based logo looks more like the one we know today.
1912 – The brief design placed the signature on top of a winged pyramid. It was meant to reflect the brand’s grace, stability and speed, but Henry Ford didn’t like it or the orange and dark blue colors.
1912-1927 – The signature finds its way into the oval. Even though it’s the first time this logo appeared, it was originally used in 1907 to identify UK dealers.
1927-1957 – The oval assumed its royal blue color and became slightly rounder than today’s oval.
1957-1976 – The logo had a lemon shape for a couple of decades.
1976-present – The modern logo saw the return of the blue oval. During the 100th anniversary, it received a whiter tint and 3D shading. It’s also known as the Centennial Blue Oval.
As you can see, the logo never really changed much through the years. There was one that was proposed in 1966, but the company never chose to use it. It featured a modern version of the text and was created by Paul Rand. He also made logos for Enron, ABC, UPS, and IBM. Henry Ford II, who originally hired Rand, felt the logo was too radical, so he rejected it.
The company alters their marketing strategies based on the time period they are in and they seem to do it well. In the 1940s, many ads centered around housewives and how they need a reliable vehicle to go shopping in. Others focused on family travel.
Then, in the 1970s, the brand kept up with the hippie and disco movements. With that also came the beginning of using women to sell their brand. This was the beginning of girls in bikinis, secretly telling readers to buy the car because it’s hip.
In the early 2000s, the company used ads with crash test dummies to show how safe their vehicles were. Their main target at the time were parents and families.
In the most recent years, Ford used narration by Denis Leary and cool graphics to keep up with the changing times in their advertisement efforts.
The company sponsors many sports facilities and events in the United States. Their most notable is the Ford Center located in Evansville, Indiana, and Ford Field found in downtown Detroit. They are also a major part of the UEFA Champions League for the past two decades and sponsor Sky media channel’s coverage of Premier League football.
Ford has won constructors titles at the FIA World Championships. They are one of only three American brands to achieve this. They’ve also won the World Sportscar Championship for three consecutive years from 1966 through 1968. On top of that, they won the World Rally Championship three times. These wins occurred in 1979, and then again in 2006 and 2007. Racing began for this group back in 1896, before there were even car races being held. The beginnings of motorsports for the company go way back to the beginning.
Starting in 1896, Henry Ford achieved a top speed of 20 mph in his Quadricycle, his first car. Then, in 1901 he defeated Alexander Winton during a 10-lap race at the Detroit Driving Club. At the time, Winton was one of the most accomplished racers.
In 1902, the Ford 999 defeated Winton at Grosse Point. This led to the financial backing that the company needed to get started. Just a year later, the 999 lapped the Indiana Fairgrounds breaking the 60 mph record. In 1904, Ford drove his 999 to set the world one-mile record while driving on a Detroit area frozen lake.
In 1907, Kulick traveled 1135 miles to set the world’s 24-hour endurance track record. He drove a six-cylinder Model K. When the company introduced its V8-Flathead engine in 1932; racing stepped up a notch. Two racers won the Swedish Winter Grand Prix with the help of a Ford Special. Again in 1936, racers won the Monte Carlo Rally with a Ford V8 Flathead.
NASCAR wins began in 1949 with Jim Roper who drove a Lincoln. Just a year later, Jimmy Florian won in Dayton, Ohio.
The first grand prix victory for the brand was in 1967. Jim Clark took home the win for the Dutch Grand Prix. The wins didn’t stop there. In fact, in 2003, Giancarlo Fisichella won the Brazilian Grand Prix which would be the company’s last – after 176 victories.
In 2011, they won the Daytona 500, taking first, second, and third place. It was their 600th NASCAR victory. Then, just two years later, during the Quicken Loans 400, they took home their 1000th win.
In 2016 they also entered four Ford GT cars into the 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Pro class. They ended up finishing in first, third, fourth, and tenth place.
The Henry Ford or Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village is located in Dearborn, Michigan. It’s a large museum complex located both indoors and outdoors. It’s been labeled as a National Historic Landmark and contains some notable memorabilia. This includes John F. Kennedy’s presidential limousine, Abraham Lincoln’s chair from Ford’s Theater, the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop, Rosa Parks bus, and Thomas Edison’s laboratory.
There’s also a 4K digital theater that shows some documentaries and feature films as well. The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile is on display as one of George Washington’s camp bed.
Greenfield Village is the outdoor space of the museum. It’s been open since 1933 and features over 100 historical buildings that have been preserved and moved here to create a unique village setting. The staff teaches visitors how they cooked, sewed, and farmed during the 17th century. There’s a rail line where steam locomotives run on the north side of the property. Now named the Weiser Railroad, this continuous loop runs around the perimeter of the museum’s property.
The company also offers a Rouge Tour. This factory tour allows visitors to see first-hand inside a working automobile plant. The bus picks visitors up from the museum and takes them to the River Rouge Plant and Dearborn Truck Plant.
The Ford Motor Credit Company is located in Dearborn, Michigan and provides automobile financing for customers. They have an annual revenue of $8.996 billion occurring to their reports in 2014. In addition, they have over 6,500 employees. Their focus is on helping dealers and consumers with financing. They are responsible for about half of all Ford and Lincoln leases and loans. In addition, they also help dealers with inventory and maintenance of the facilities.
They also own Lincoln Automotive Financial Services, the division that finances Lincolns. Since the early 2000s, Ford Credit is the only financial company of the Big Three manufacturers that is still owned by the parent automaker. General Motors now relies on Ally Financial while Chrysler Financial came under the direction of TD Auto Finance.
They’ve also ranked highest in Satisfaction with Consumer Financing among Mass Market brands occurring to J.D. Power. This is the third time in a row.
They offer several incentive plans including $500 Appreciation Cash to military members, $500 in cash for college students, $500 incentives for first responders, and up to $1,000 reimbursement for mobility accessories.
There are also lots of extended service plans and maintenance plans offered by the company. For people that don’t do their own work to their vehicles, these save a lot of money in the long run. Additional plans include TireCARE, DentCARE, WindshieldCARE, and TripleCARE. With their various programs, vehicles are covered from the tires to the body and all the way to the windshield.
There are more than 3,000 Ford and Lincoln dealerships across the United States, but the company prefers to refer to them as stores. When searching for a “store” to shop at, it’s important to look for the awards they’ve won. These prestigious honors help customers recognize which dealers are the top in their field.
The Triple Crown Award requires the dealer to remain within the top 100 in sales volume across the nation. They must also be in the top 100 regarding their parts and service volume. The Triple Crown also requires that they’ve already earned the President’s Award. The President’s Award is the top award for Customer Satisfaction. Only 15 dealers per region are capable of winning this award.
The Partners in Quality recognition honors dealers that excel in support and customer satisfaction in relation to Ford Credit.
Another great tool to use when looking for a dealer is the J.D. Power Dealer of Excellence list. There are currently several listed as a top dealer, including, Harris Ford in Arkansas and Paul Miller Ford in Kentucky. In addition, DARCARS Ford Lanham in Maryland, plus Herb Chambers Ford of Braintree and Quirk Ford in Massachusetts are also listed. Final honorees include Ricart Ford in Ohio, plus Randall Reed’s Park Cities Ford Lincoln, Randall Reed’s Prestige Ford, Randall Reed’s Planet Ford Humble, and Randall Reed’s Planet Ford Spring in Texas.
There are dealers that provide other services as well. Along with collision repair, some of them offer the company’s Quick Lane service. This allows customers to receive service to their vehicles by factory-trained experts using Motorcraft parts. There are no appointments needed and most tasks are accomplished while you wait. They are even open on most weekends and evenings for convenience.
1 – They are the second largest family-owned company in the world. William Clay Ford, Jr. is the great-grandson of the creator. He is also the company’s executive chairman.
2 – Ford was close friends with Thomas Edison. As Edison was dying, his son captured his last breath in a test tube and then sealed it with a cork. This was kept as a memorial at the museum to document Edison’s “life and breath.”
3 – Jim Morrison only owned one vehicle; it was a 1967 Shelby GT500.
4 – During the 2012 Texas State Fair, Chevy used a Ford SuperDuty to set up their own display.
5 – The Ford Airplane Company was created during World War I. Eventually, in 1933, they shut down due to poor sales. Then, in 2002, they were recognized by the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission for being a pioneer in aviation.
6 – Before being green was popular; the company was already using sustainable products. Prior to 1939, they powered their factories by burning animal and human manure.
7 – The legendary Big Foot monster truck was the first ever built. It used a Ford as its base.
8 – During their early years of production, the company utilized ostrich feathers. They were placed around the new car as a buffer as they left the factory.
9 – The company once doubled the average market pay for its employees in 1914. Most workers were only receiving $5 a day at that time, but Ford wanted them to have a better life.
Does Ford Own Mazda? They have a small stake in the company, but once held a larger chunk. Mazda has since partnered with Toyota.
Where are Fords Made? There are multiple production facilities across the United States and worldwide. Some cars are still produced in Dearborn, Michigan, where the company got its start. In total, there are more than 75 locations across the world where the company either produces automobiles or the parts for the vehicles.
Is Ford Better than Chevy? There has always been a long-time rivalry between the brands, with each one’s customers believing that their brand is better. Whether it’s a question of Mustang versus Camaro or F-150 versus Chevy Silverado, there’s no concrete data to prove that one is better than the other. What we do know is that the F-Series truck has been the best-selling truck for more than 40 years, making it the best in terms of sales.
Does Ford Own Jaguar? The luxury vehicle brand is a British multinational car manufacturer headquartered in Whitley, Coventry and owned by Tata Motors. They are an Indian company that purchased the brand, along with Land Rover for $2.3 billion in 2008 from Ford.
Is Ford Bringing Back the Bronco? Since the Bronco has been out of production since 1996, enthusiasts everywhere have complained. That’s why the company decided to return the Bronco to showrooms starting in 2020. It will feature the same platform as a Ranger pickup, which hasn’t been produced since 2011. In other news, the Ranger is also scheduled to come back as well.
Who Invented Ford? Henry Ford, born in 1863 started the company. He also sponsored the assembly line to create mass production. While he didn’t invent the automobile, his design allowed many middle-class Americans the chance to own an affordable vehicle.