Throughout the history of the automobile, there have been many innovations and changes that have helped the industry become more efficient. Today, there are over 70 million passenger cars built worldwide. In the United States, one in six jobs is provided by the automobile industry. The automotive industry has also played a key role in the economic and social growth of the country.
Originally, the automobile was a contraption that was built to carry goods. This early type of vehicle used a steam engine, which could go fast, but had a short range. It was difficult to start and use. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, horseless carriages had transformed into the modern form we see today.
The first successful gasoline-powered vehicles were designed by Gottlieb Daimler. He co-owned the Deutz Gasmotorenfabrik in 1872. In 1889, he developed the V-slanted two-cylinder four-stroke engine. This engine set the standard for all car engines.
In the early twentieth century, the automobile’s popularity began to overtake all other types of motor vehicles. By 1920, the gasoline-powered automobile had overtaken the streets of Europe and the United States. After World War II, production of automobiles soared in Japan and Germany. The American manufacturing tradition helped lower the price of the car, making them affordable to middle-class families.
The United States had a higher per capita income than Europe, which made the demand for automobiles more acute. By the 1930s, the United States had the largest automobile industry in the world. At this time, the United States accounted for 80 percent of the industry’s output. The automobile industry began to use mass production techniques to compete with European manufacturers. These techniques required a larger volume of sales, which made the vehicles more competitive.
The United States also had a chronic shortage of skilled labor. This encouraged the mechanization of industrial processes. Consequently, the automobile industry became a major customer of the steel industry. The automobile industry revolutionized the steel industry and the petroleum industry. By the mid-1920s, the automobile industry was the lifeblood of the petroleum industry. In the United States, the automotive industry became the number one consumer of industrial products.
The automobile industry in the United States became the backbone of a new consumer goods-oriented society. The United States produced more motor vehicles than any other nation in 1913. In 1982, the automotive industry provided one out of every six jobs. By the early 1980s, the industry was producing almost 400,000 vehicles a year. In 1984, the United States had the highest per capita consumption of motor vehicles in the world. The automotive industry ranked as the top industrial producer of products in the United States in the mid-1920s.
In the 1930s, the automobile’s engine was moved from the rear of the vehicle to the front. This allowed for better balance and steering. The vehicles also had a pedal-operated clutch and front radiator. Several other important innovations were added to the automobile in the 1930s.