In the early years of the automobile, Henry Ford
was the front runner with the Model T, but even then, GM was hot on his heels. Wagon maker Billy Durant created General Motors and bought a variety of different car lines rather than producing his own single line. He was betting on the desirability of variety and even tried purchasing Ford, however Henry Ford required cash and Billy Durant wasn’t willing to do business in that fashion at that time. Through the 1920s Ford held the number one position but his refusal
to change his flagship car the Model T caused him to have to lower his price on the vehicle in order to try to maintain sales volume. Henry Ford’s stubbornness gave General Motors an opening to stick their head through in order to gain the lead. The did this by improving their Chevrolet line which occurred about the same time that Henry Ford was shutting down his plant for the Model A retooling. Billy Durant was correct in his assumption that variety would carry him through. GM owned Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac
Henry Ford’s grandson Henry Ford II put together a team and a motto. The Motto was ‘Beat GM’ and in 1957, the Ford division led by the late Robert McNamara caught up to Chevrolet. Mercury also got a boost and Lincoln and Continental separated into two different divisions. It was also at this time that the Edsel was created from a poll that was taken from the general public. According to this poll, the Edsel was what every average family wanted and was expected to have explosive sales. Unfortunately the Edsel was a complete failure and Ford slid back down into second place.
Ten to fifteen years ago, Ford looked like they might catch up to GM again but this was not due to Fords increased sales, but to GM’s reduced sales. As they began to get closer and closer in sales volume, Ford began to loose volume even faster than GM, widening the gap between the two giants.
Ford is now closing the gap again, they are outselling GM in automobiles, however the overall difference currently is minimal. GM still holds the lead but with the selling or closing down of different automobile nameplates such as Pontiac allowed Ford to creep up even closer. Fords top selling car currently is the Fusion and this vehicle outsells GM’s most popular automobile, the Impala. The Ford Focus also outsells the GM competitor the Chevy Cobalt. Lincoln has even begun to outsell the Cadillac.
With the total mix up of the economy and the effect on the car industry, coupled with the new technology cars currently on the drawing board or in production, it’s anybody’s game.