Henry Ford and the Model T: lessons for product platforming and mass customization

Fabrice Alizon, Steven B. Shooter, Timothy W. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Henry Ford is recognized as the father of mass production, but his contributions extend well beyond that, offering valuable lessons for product platforming and mass customization. In this paper, we study Ford's Model T and its many variants in depth and describe insights into Ford's vision and his car. In particular, we examine how the platform was built, leveraged and dynamically maintained with continuous improvements to maximize learning and economies of scale. Finally, we compare Ford's approach to more current approaches for platforming and mass customization. October 2008 marked the 100-year anniversary of the introduction of the Model T. In some aspects this old car still outperforms us, and we can learn valuable lessons from its past to avoid future mistakes and improve current practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-605
Number of pages18
JournalDesign Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Architecture
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Engineering
  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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