The Ford Model A was the second huge success for the Ford Motor Company. The first was produced on October 20, 1927. The model A production ended in March, 1932, after 4.858.644 had been made in all body styles.
From the mid 1910s through the early 1920s, Ford dominated the automotive market with its Model T. However, during the mid-1920s, this dominance eroded as competitors, especially the various General Motors divisions, caught up with Ford's mass production system and began to outcompete Ford in some areas, especially by offering more powerful engines, new convenience features, or cosmetic customization. Also, features Henry Ford considered to be unnecessary, such as electric starters, were gradually shifting in the public's perception from luxuries to essentials. Ford's sales force recognized the threat and advised Henry to respond to it. Initially he resisted, but the T's sagging market share finally forced him to admit a replacement was needed. When he finally agreed to begin development of this new model, he focused on the mechanical aspects and on what today is called design for manufacturability (DFM), which he had always strongly embraced and for which the Model T production system was famous. Although ultimately successful, the development of the Model A included many problems that had to be resolved. For example, the die stamping of parts from sheet steel, which the Ford company had led to new heights of development with the Model T production system, was something Henry had always been ambivalent about; it had brought success, but he felt that it was not the best choice for durability. He was determined that the Model A would rely more on drop forgings than the Model T; but his ideas to improve the DFM of forging did not prove practical. Eventually, Ford's engineers persuaded him to relent, lest the Model A's production cost force up its retail price too much.