Ford is one of the most iconic names in automotive history, and the Michigan-based company has produced some of the greatest US cars ever made. From the very start, Ford has had a reputation for innovation – starting with the Ford Model T which was built between 1908 and 1927, and which was the first car made on Henry Ford’s famous production line.
Henry Ford is famously quoted as telling customers that they could have their Model T in any color, “as long as it’s black”. Although there are some doubts about the veracity of the quote, there is some truth behind it, as between 1914 and 1926 Model T cars were only available with black paintwork, as this was the cheapest option available for the company!
As time has gone on, Ford has continued to innovate, and these days they even form partnerships with other motoring companies to develop new features and bring them to market. Ford won’t work with just any automotive rival, however. Many of the biggest car manufacturers in the world – Ford included – are so competitive that they would never dream of opening their doors to companies they see as a challenger to their position in the market.
For Ford, most of their rivals are the other big US automotive companies, but as the list below shows, Ford actually has competitors across the globe.
15 Avoid - Vauxhall
Vauxhall may not be a household name in the US, but they are one of the UK’s most successful car manufacturers. Small cars have always been big sellers in Britain, and Ford has often developed different models especially for the different tastes of UK and European drivers in a bid to muscle in on the sales of home-grown companies like Vauxhall.
The Ford Mondeo family car affected sales of Vauxhall vehicles, and the UK company hit back with its own Vauxhall Insignia, which has gone a long way to restoring their pride. There is no love lost between these two firms, and we are unlikely to see a Ford-Vauxhall partnership any time soon.
14 Avoid - Chrysler
The rivalry between Ford and Chrysler will be much more familiar to US gearheads. Indeed, there is little chance of Ford teaming up with any of their fellow US automotive giants! Chrysler may have been established over 20 years after Ford, in 1925, but the company is still considered one of the Big Three in American motoring, along with Ford and General Motors.
The rivalry between Ford and Chrysler may be almost a century old, but it is still going strong, with both companies still keen to outdo the other when it comes to performance cars and, more recently, their pickups.
13 Avoid - Holden
Not all of Ford’s rivalries are limited to dealerships, however. Ford is also heavily involved in motorsport competitions around the world, and competitive sport is no place for working together with your biggest competitors.
In Australia, touring car races since the 1960s have been dominated by the rivalry between Ford and local car manufacturer, Holden. Holden was actually founded in the 1940s when they worked with Ford’s big rival General Motors to produce the very first car designed and built in Australia, so it isn’t hard to see why the two companies would be determined to come out on top when it came to the race track.
12 Avoid - Chevrolet
General Motors might be considered one of the Big Three in US car manufacturing, but the fact is that this one company owns many of the most famous motoring brands – many of whom have enjoyed a healthy rivalry with Ford over the years. The Chevrolet brand was founded in 1911, and actually became part of GM as part of a reverse merger in 1918, when Chevy founder William Durand used his company to acquire a controlling interest in the larger company.
Chevy and Ford have been competing against each other on the US market and abroad ever since, and there is little chance of a partnership between the two firms.
11 Avoid - Toyota
Since the 1970s, Japan-based car manufacturers have become increasingly successful in foreign markets, including the US and Europe, where they frequently come up against much more established automotive companies such as Ford. Toyota is now one of the biggest car makers in the world, and its Prius model is the best-selling hybrid ever.
However, it is Toyota’s efforts to take on the most US of vehicles, the pickup truck, which has brought them into close competition with Ford and made any chance of a Ford-Toyota hybrid very unlikely, despite the fact that both companies have developed great technological innovations over the years.
10 Avoid - Tata
Tata Motors is the biggest home-grown car manufacturer in India, one of the fastest-growing automotive markets over the last twenty years. Things didn’t always run smoothly for the Indian firm or its chairman Ratan Tata, and in 1999 they approached Ford to ask if they would buy out the Tata Group’s fledgling motoring business, only to face an embarrassing rejection.
The tables were turned, however, less than ten years later, when Ford was looking to offload their troublesome Jaguar Land Rover business – which Tata bought and subsequently reinvented. The two companies may be happy to do business together, but a partnership is unlikely.
9 Avoid - Dodge
Dodge is another of the General Motors brands that Ford has been in competition with for decades. This rivalry is encapsulated in two cars; the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Viper. These two cars may look very different, but they nevertheless appeal to similar motorists – those who are looking for speed and power, as well as a great design.
The Ford Mustang is the quintessential US muscle car, while the Dodge Viper seems to have taken much of its design inspiration from European supercars. The two companies could learn a lot from each other, but a team-up between them seems doubtful.
8 Avoid - Tesla
Electric cars are going to play a big part in the future of motoring, and Tesla is leading the charge with their all-electric fleet of cars, with proprietary technology under the hood, which means that they are unwilling and unlikely to work with any other car company, not just Ford.
That doesn’t mean that Ford is willing to let Elon Musk’s company have it all their own way on the electric car market, having established their own division to look into developing and improving the technology needed to make electric motoring commercially viable. They have even called themselves “Team Edison” in a nod to the great inventor’s rivalry with Nikola Tesla.
7 Avoid - Cadillac
Cadillac is yet another of those General Motors subsidiaries which have been in constant competition with Ford since they were founded all the way back in 1902 – a year before Henry Ford started his own company. While Ford was interested in making motoring available to the masses, Cadillac has always been about producing luxury vehicles, but once Ford acquired the Lincoln Motor Company in 1912, they started to produce their own high-end vehicles, and Ford – through Lincoln – has continued to compete with Cadillac until the present day.
The two companies had a falling out at the 2015 New York Auto Show, when Ford gave journalists a sneak preview of their luxury sedan, days before the new Cadillac went on display.
6 Avoid - Ferrari
Think of the cars that they produce for sale to the public, and it is difficult to imagine how Ford could see Italian company Ferrari as a rival. Ford makes family cars and pickups, not million-dollar supercars, although they have been known to dabble in high-end sports cars from time to time.
However, the real Ford vs. Ferrari rivalry was on the racetrack. This was a rivalry that was pretty personal too, with Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari pushing their respective companies to create a car that could win the prestigious Le Mans 24-Hour race. Ferrari dominated the race in the early years of the 1960s before the Ford GT40 finally won its first race – the first of four-in-a-row – in 1966.
5 Love - Mercedes-Benz
Perhaps it is easier for Ford to develop good working relationships with companies which have always focused on markets outside the US. Mercedes-Benz, owned by automotive giant Daimler, is selling an increasing number of cars in the US, but they are still very much seen as a European company.
Ford and Mercedes-Benz joined forces in 2013 to investigate and develop hydrogen fuel cell technology, a new, more environmentally-friendly way of powering vehicles which could electric cars’ more regular batteries. It is always easier to team up with rivals when a technology is in its infancy, as no one company feels they are giving away any of their secrets!
4 Love - Cosworth
Ford Cosworth is a name that will be immediately familiar to fans of Formula One racing. Ford joined forces with Cosworth, a London-based automotive company, to design and build engines for Grand Prix racing cars, and it became the go-to engine for many Formula One teams in the 1970s and 1980s, and even into the 1990s.
Michael Schumacher’s first Grand Prix win came in 1992 in a Benetton-Ford car with a Cosworth engine, and back in 1973 every winner of every Grand Prix race that season did so while driving a car powered by the iconic Ford Cosworth DFV engine.
3 Love - Nissan
Nissan is also one of the partners in the Ford-Daimler team which was set up to investigate hydrogen fuel cell technology, but this is far from the first time that the US company has joined forces with the Japan car manufacturer.
In the 1980s, minivans were enormously popular with the driving public, but Ford had always struggled to come up with a model that ticked all the right boxes. And so, they turned to Nissan, who had already proven their worth in the minivan market, and the two companies worked together; Nissan would design and engineer these new vehicles, which would then be assembled at US factories.
2 Love - Kia
Ford has also been happy to worth with the car manufacturer Kia, despite the fact that there is a lot of crossover in their target markets. This has been a long-term relationship which started in the 1990s when Ford and Kia had a deal for the firm to build the compact Ford Festiva and rebadge it as the Kia Avella.
More recently, Ford and Kia joined forces once again, when the company turned to Kia when they needed someone to design and engineer their new Lincoln Continental luxury car, which was them built in both Michigan and Seoul in South Korea.
1 Love - Volkswagen
The working relationship between Ford and car manufacturer Volkswagen has become so fruitful, that the two companies have even established an official alliance to help them both cut costs and maximize profits. In early 2019, the Ford-Volkswagen alliance announced that their first car would be a pickup truck; the next Ford Ranger in the US and the Volkswagen Amarok in Europe.
While the vehicles will share engines and some design features, once they roll off the production line, marketing and sales are very much the responsibility of each individual company, and both will very much have their own identity.
Sources - Parkers, ABC, The Car Connection, Futurism