Ford Motor Company is the world's largest producer of trucks, and the second largest producer of cars and trucks combined. Ford has manufacturing, assembly or sales affiliates in 34 countries and Ford companies employed 337,800 people world-wide in 1996. Ford has manufacturing facilities in 22 countries on 5 continents, with 87 plants in North America and 41 in Europe. In Europe, in 1995, Ford's combined vehicle market share, at 12.2%, was the highest for eleven years, with three of the eight best-selling cars. In 1995, in the United States, five of the ten top- selling vehicles were Ford, including the best-selling car (Ford Taurus) and best-selling truck (F-series). On January 1, 1995, Ford merged its North American Automotive Operations and its European Automotive Operations into a single organization, Ford Automotive Operations. Instead of being organized by geographic regions, the Company is now realigned by product line, with five Vehicle Centers, each responsible for one group of products worldwide. At the same time, Ford is reducing the time taken to develop a new vehicle from 48 to 24 months and reducing engines, transmissions, and basic vehicle platforms by 30% worldwide. Ford hopes that by pooling global skills and resources will result in more variations on each vehicle platform, increasing the number of vehicles introduced over the next five years by 50%. One of the key strategies behind the realignment has been growth. Ford has launched a variety of new initiatives throughout the world, with joint ventures for the assembly of vehicles in countries as diverse as China, India, Thailand and Vietnam. In China, Ford expects to begin production of light trucks with a company named Jiangling Motors in the near future. In India, Mahindra Ford India Ltd. will begin manufacture and distribution of Ford products, beginning with the Ford Escort, in mid-1996 and Fiesta in 1998. In Thailand, Ford has a joint venture to produce pick-up trucks and in Vietnam, Ford plans to build a vehicle assembly plant at Hanoi, together with partners Song Cong Diesel. In Poland, the Plonsk plant has begun to build Escorts and Transits. Joint ventures are establishing a presence for Ford all over the globe. Ford is working with two companies in Korea, one to supply automotive air conditioning units and the second as a new joint venture to produce electronic components later this year. In addition to the 20% of Jiangling Motors, China, acquired by Ford in 1995, four further manufacturing joint ventures in China have been set up to produce radiators, glass, plastic and electronic components. Ford has also acquired a 45% equity in South African company, Samcor, for the assembly of Ford
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