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Designing A 21st Century Model T


20th May, 2008

Designing A 21st Century Model T

  • Ford Motor Company challenges five universities from around the world to design a revolutionary global vehicle for today that shares the Model T's attributes:  simple, lightweight, practical, compelling – and priced below $7,000 (USD).
  • Two winners will be selected, earning their institution $25,000 (USD) each in scholarships.

A century after the Model T put the world on wheels, Ford is challenging five universities from around the world to dream big and design a Model T concept for this century.

In 1921, the Model T accounted for almost 57 percent of the world's automobile production. Today, Ford is launching an important new small car – the Fiesta – around the world and the company continues challenging people to design truly ground-breaking vehicles.

Teams of both undergraduate and graduate students will work to design revolutionary concepts that address transportation needs of the future. Participating schools are:  Aachen University, Cologne, Germany; Art Centre College of Design, Pasadena, California, USA; Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia; Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan, USA; and University of Michigan-Dearborn, Dearborn, Michigan, USA.

Students at each have been selected to participate in the four-month challenge, trying to deliver a Model T concept that will earn their institution $25,000 (USD) in scholarship funds.

"The Model T is a true product of an engineering genius. Although simple and practical, it changed the way we live, work and play and met the needs of millions," said Paul Mascarenas, Ford's vice president of Engineering for Global Product Development. "In that same spirit, Ford continues to deliver high-quality, affordable products and technologies for the masses. Through this challenge we're looking for the students to push the boundaries and deliver an alternative transportation concept for tomorrow – and beyond."

Each university received $75,000 in funding from Ford Global Technologies, LLC to support the development of a vehicle concept through sketches, models, research papers and potentially even working models that deliver on the brief.

The teams are challenged to design a vehicle that is simple, durable and lightweight. Each vehicle must accommodate at least two passengers and offer solutions that address assembly, powertrain and sustainability. Plus, perhaps the most challenging task, the vehicle must have a range of at least 200 kilometres (approximately 125 miles), and come equipped with a base target price of only $7,000 (USD).

“It's not often we celebrate the centennial anniversary of an iconic vehicle, so we created the Model T Challenge as the perfect opportunity for students to conceptualise future transportation in a way that is unique to Ford," said Bill Coughlin, president and chief executive officer of Ford Global Technologies, LLC. "To date, there has never been a vehicle that has left such an impact on the lives of millions, and Ford is challenging students to present an alternative that just might do so again."

Students have until 1st September to submit their proposals. Five judges from Ford Motor Company, including Mascarenas and Coughlin, will critique each concept. The two concepts that best embody the Model T spirit, personify the Ford brand and meet the challenge criteria will each be awarded $25,000 from Ford Global Technologies for university scholarships on the anniversary of Model T – 1st October, 2008.

Celebrating an Icon

During the next six months, Ford will recognise the Model T's historic milestone through a series of regional celebrations joined by thousands of Model T owners and global enthusiasts.

Beginning on 5th September, Ford along with The Henry Ford will host the largest Michigan gathering of Model Ts.  The weekend event will kick off with a Model T display on the grounds of Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn for employees, families and friends. More than 200 Model Ts are expected to appear. Those vehicles also will cruise over to celebrate at The Henry Ford's Old Car Festival on 6th-7th September.

Ford Model T Facts

  • 1st October, 1908 marks the anniversary of the first Model T built for sale.
  • The Model T was the first low-priced, mass-produced automobile with standard, interchangeable parts.
  • The Model T was equipped with a 20-horsepower, four-cylinder engine with a top speed of approximately 45 miles per hour, weighed 1,200 pounds, and achieved 13-21 miles per gallon.
  • The first Model Ts sold for $825 – an unexpected bargain compared to other cars and even more remarkable is that during its 19 years of production, Ford continued to steadily lower its price, thanks to manufacturing efficiencies.
  • The moving assembly line for the Model T revolutionised manufacturing in 1913.
  • More than 15 Million Model Ts had been sold by 26th May, 1927, when a ceremony marked the formal end of Model T production.
  • Henry Ford called the Model T "the universal car," a low-cost, reliable vehicle that could be maintained easily and could successfully travel the poor roads of the era.
  • On 18th December, 1999, the Ford Model T was named "Car of the Century" by a panel of 133 who began with a list of 700 candidates in 1996 and sequentially narrowed the nominees through seven rounds of balloting over three years.

Other Ford content: here.

Other Historic Vehicle content: here.

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