In Did You Know? the National Geographic magazine team shares extra information we gathered to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects.
Henry Ford thought that biofuels were the "fuel of the future." Ford's vision of mass biofuel consumption began with his Model T Ford. Starting in 1908, the Model T propelled Ford Motor Company to become the largest producer of automobiles at the time. By 1918 over half the cars in America were Model T's, giving Ford little reason to change the car's design in its nearly 20 years on the road.
From the original design, the Model T ran on ethanol as well as petroleum. Ford believed ethanol would become the most commonly used fuel source, and as early as 1925 envisioned an America that would grow its own fuel, making it out of everything from potatoes to sawdust. With more people willing to consume agricultural goods, he believed, farmers' produce would have more market value. Forces were beyond his control, however, and the economic crisis affecting farming only increased with the onset of the Great Depression.
In 1927, in order to compete with General Motors, a new up-and-coming car company, Ford issued his first new car model since the Model T: the Model A. After that new cars rolled out of Ford Motor Company's doors on a more regular basis, and with them came the phasing out of the classic Model Tand Ford's vision for ethanol use in the near future.