During the twentieth century, the automobile industry emerged as one of the largest industries in the world. It was a backbone of a new consumer goods-oriented society. It was also the chief customer of the steel industry and the petroleum industry. The industry was able to spread sales over a wide geographic area because of the lack of tariff barriers. It provided one out of six jobs in 1982 and was the lifeblood of the petroleum industry. It was also a source of employment for engineers, scientists, and research and development personnel.
In the early 1900s, approximately 485 companies entered the motor vehicle business in the United States. However, by the end of the century, the number of active manufacturers had dropped to 44. It was not until the mid-1930s that European automakers began using mass production techniques. This allowed the company to divide the market into smaller segments. It also required the use of heavy outlays of capital. The use of mass production techniques was adopted by other American automobile manufacturers quickly.
The Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Chrysler emerged as the “Big Three” in the 1920s. Each company had developed techniques for reducing its production costs and increasing its output. They had established factories in the northeastern United States.
By the end of the twentieth century, the American automobile industry accounted for 80 percent of the industry’s output. During this period, the demand for automobiles increased in other parts of the world as well. After World War II, automobile production soared in Europe and Japan. By the 1980s, the automobile industry was a global enterprise.
An important aspect of the automobile industry is that it is a highly complex technical system. It has thousands of components, including engines, chassis, and control systems. It is powered by gasoline or diesel, and its design depends on its intended use. The size and weight of the engine and its location will determine its stability and performance. Moreover, the fuel used for driving is an important factor in performance standards.
The development of the automobile industry was fueled by the economic development of the United States. Higher per capita income gave consumers the opportunity to buy cars at a much lower price than they could in Europe. In addition, cheap raw materials encouraged the mechanization of industrial processes in the United States.
The first successful American gasoline car, the Model T, was designed by Henry Ford and sold in 1908. It was affordable to middle-class families and had an annual retail price of less than $575. It replaced animal-drawn carriages and was offered in large numbers. The Model T was introduced in 1908 and sold for 15 million units by 1927.
By the end of the 20th century, the automobile became the lifeblood of the petroleum industry. It provided a lifeline for humanity, stimulating tourism, outdoor recreation, and medical care for the rural poor. It also brought urban amenities and better schools to the rural areas of the United States.