The automobile industry of America started in the 1890s and evolved rapidly in one of the largest in the world. The country’s automobile industry ruled the world’s automobile sector during the first half of the twentieth century. The vehicle industry started with the introduction of many manufacturing companies, but by the end of 1920s, it was dominated by Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. With the introduction of the Model T Ford by Henry Ford in 1908, Americans developed a passion for manufacturing vehicles in the world.
In 1893, the two American brothers, Charles E. and J. Frank Duryea, founded the first American automobile company named the Duryea Motor Wagon Company that led the foundation of American auto industry. The country’s first mass produced automobile was Curved-dash automobile. During the beginning of the 20th century, automobiles were limited to only few people as they were time-consuming to produce and too costly for the general public. However, during 1904 and 1908 around 241 different firms began the production of cars aimed at American consumers.
In 1908, Ford Motor Company came with the Model T that revolutionized American automobile industry. The vehicle was purposely marketed to average family and by the year 1918, almost half of the American car consumers owned Model Ts. It was the world’s first mass produced vehicle, around million units of the vehicle were sold by 1920. Henry Ford transformed the rural, agricultural America into urban, more industrialized one. On the other side, William C. Durant established General Motors in 1908 by merging Buick, Oakland and Oldsmobile. Later on, Cadillac and Chevrolet were also added to the company. The Chrysler Corporation started in 1925 along with many other car companies during this period.
By the end of 1920s, the US stock market crashed that began the Great Depression that hit the car industry hard. During 1930s, many automakers saw the downfall due to the economic effects of the Great Depression, and rigorous competition from the Big Three (Chrysler, Ford and General Motors). The declining economy chiefly affected luxury automobile manufacturers, with companies like Stutz Motor Company, Pierce-Arrow Motor Company, Peerless Motor Company, Cunningham, and the Marmon Motor Car Company going cleaned out.
During World War II, demand for military production grew stronger. Large units of a highly maneuverable and overland vehicle, Jeep were produced during the time. Chrysler began the production of tanks. After the World War II, America emerged from the Great Depression and the auto industry started to thrive. The period was very good for the country’s economy as people began to earn more, businesses flourished and consequently demand for vehicles increased. Technically, after the war, American automakers focused more on improvement and refinement rather than on innovation. The 1950s saw cars with ground-breaking technologies and rocket-inspired designs. Americans were buying more and more cars and car companies were manufacturing large, powerful, stylish cars for people to buy.
In the 1960s, automakers shifted the focus on producing safer vehicles that could meet the needs of modern consumers. Cars manufactured during the time were powerful, spacious, and fast. They were even referred to as “muscle cars”. Earlier fuel economy was not a major concern for Americans. However, the oil crises of the 1970s forced automakers to create vehicles that were fuel-efficient. But as the crises ended, the car makers returned to producing fast, powerful vehicles.
During early 1980s, the country’s automobile sector was ruled by four major industries- GM, Chrysler, Ford and AMC along with one commercial vehicle manufacturer, International Harvester Company. For many years, American automakers ruled the automobile market. But due to stiff competition from foreign automakers, chiefly Japanese and German, America began to lose the market share by the end of twentieth century. Vehicles from foreign brands came with better fuel efficiency, attractive design, and easy affordability. Many companies such as GM, Chrysler even faced bankruptcy, but were saved by the American Government. Now, American auto industry is gaining its reputation back and is emerging as one of the most popular auto industry of the world.