Ford Acquisitions


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  • 1922: Lincoln Motor Company for $8 million
  • 1925: 25% stake in Mazda
  • 1929: British automaker Aston Martin
  • 1987: Hertz Rent-A-Car
  • 1999: Volvo car division
  • 2000: Land Rover from BMW


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In 1922, Ford Motor Company took a major step to expand its offerings into the luxury car market by acquiring the Lincoln Motor Company.

Headed by the esteemed automotive engineer Henry M. Leland, Lincoln had been founded just 5 years earlier, in 1917, and named in honor of Leland's longtime hero Abraham Lincoln.

Despite Lincoln's short history up to that point, Ford saw a ripe opportunity to grow sales by acquiring this small but promising luxury carmaker.

After negotiations with Leland, Ford purchased the entire Lincoln business for a sum of $8 million, which would equate to over $130 million in today's dollars.

This allowed Ford to quickly leap into the fast-growing luxury segment while allowing the Lincoln name, with its association with high quality and refinement, to grow substantially under Ford's mass production expertise.

Indeed, Ford's investment took Lincoln from a fledgling enterprise to one of America's most prestigious automotive nameplates within the next two decades. The 1922 deal marked the true beginning of Lincoln's ascent to automotive fame.


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In 1925, Ford Motor Company acquired a 25% stake in Mazda, marking the start of a pivotal long-term partnership between the American and Japanese automakers.

Despite being based half a world away, Ford saw intriguing potential to one day expand into the massive East Asian market by partnering with smaller Japanese companies producing cars tailored for local tastes.

The 25% stake gave Ford only a minority share initially, yet it planted the seeds for major growth later on once demand for autos exploded in markets like Japan and China following WWII.

Over 40 years later, Ford would increase its Mazda stake to over 50% by the late 1970s and utilize the company as its foothold for manufacturing quality, fuel-efficient small cars to meet changing consumer demands.

While the partnership has evolved over the last century, Ford's prescient 1925 investment in Mazda kick-started one of the auto world's most impactful East-meets-West alliances.


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In 1929, Ford Motor Company purchased the British sports car builder Aston Martin, adding the niche marque to its portfolio as a way to tap into Europe's burgeoning luxury auto market.

Founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, Aston Martin had established itself as a maker of high performance, racing-inspired sports machines catering to wealthier thrill-seeking buyers.

Ford likely saw Aston Martin as a prime opportunity to acquire an existing luxury brand with a devoted following rather than trying to build one from the ground up.

Though Aston Martin accounted for only a tiny fraction of British auto sales at the time, Ford was clearly thinking ahead to the growth potential once markets recovered from the Great Depression.

The acquisition highlighted Ford's early recognition of the expanding global appetite for fast, stylish sports cars. It marked the beginning of an on-again, off-again relationship between the two iconic automakers that continues fluctuating to this day.


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In 1987, Ford Motor Company acquired the Hertz Corporation, the world's largest car rental company, in a deal valued at over $1.3 billion.

This unexpected move into the vehicle rental space gave Ford an enormous fleet of nearly 350,000 vehicles worldwide that generated continuous new car sales as older rentals were replaced with the latest Ford models.

It also provided a vast new channel for selling now-used higher mileage rental cars to value-focused used car buyers.

Additionally, owning such a large rental company enabled Ford to keep a reliable finger on the pulse of changing consumer vehicle preferences to inform its new product development.

Acquiring an established travel industry brand like Hertz perfectly complemented Ford's identity as a mass-market transportation provider for the masses.

The deal proved Ford’s forward-looking mindset under CEO Donald Petersen, who sought new opportunities beyond simply manufacturing and selling vehicles in the late 1980s.


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In 1999, Ford Motor Company made one of its largest acquisitions ever, purchasing Volvo's automobile business from its parent company for $6.45 billion.

This brought the Swedish maker of safe, upscale vehicles into Ford's growing family of brands. Ford targeted Volvo for its reputation as one of the world’s leading producers of safety-focused cars and SUVs.

Additionally, buying Volvo instantly gave Ford an established presence across Europe, an important growth market, while also providing new technology and expertise in safety systems that Ford could utilize across all its brands.

The blockbuster deal underscored Ford’s strategy during the 1990s and early 2000s of aggressively expanding market share globally via major mergers and acquisitions—an approach that transformed Ford into a diverse, international automotive powerhouse.

It also demonstrated the ongoing appeal of Volvo’s brand equity throughout changing market conditions over the decades since its founding in 1927.


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In 2000, Ford Motor Company purchased storied British 4x4 maker Land Rover from the German luxury automaker BMW for $2.7 billion.

The addition of the rugged SUV manufacturer known for its off-road ready vehicles bolstered Ford's light-truck lineup and gave it an established nameplate internationally synonymous with off-road capability.

Moreover, acquiring Land Rover offered Ford cutting-edge expertise in four-wheel drive technology to apply across its broader range of trucks and SUVs.

For its part, the deal brought financial stability for Land Rover after a period of uncertainty under BMW's ownership.

Ultimately, Ford's ownership of the distinctive Land Rover brand enhanced its profile as a producer of highly capable SUVs with timeless go-anywhere appeal.

The strategic acquisition was central to Ford's efforts to build market share globally across the booming light truck segment in the early 2000s.