The automobile (or motorcar) is a vehicle with four wheels. It can be used to carry passengers, cargo, or both. They have been developed over time, starting in the late 1800s in Germany and France. Today, they are produced worldwide.
Early automobiles had a self-propelling drive train. By the early 1900s, the technology was advanced enough for commercial production. A number of companies entered the business.
During the first half of the twentieth century, the United States dominated the automobile industry. By the 1980s, it had become a global industry.
The era of easy entry was over. Henry Ford developed mass-production techniques that were adopted by other American automakers. This enabled the manufacturers to build more cars at a low price.
The introduction of the Model T in 1908 was a major breakthrough for the automotive industry. The Model T runabout sold for less than the average annual wage in the U.S.
Despite the economic downturn of the Great Depression, Packard and Hudson survived. The Ford Motor Company also had a successful business.
Several independent automakers were also destroyed by the Depression. As a result, the auto industry was oversaturated and technological stagnation set in. In 1929, only 44 active manufacturers were still operating.
After World War II, the automotive industry in the United States and Japan grew dramatically. Manufacturers increased safety, body, and chassis improvements and improved emission control systems.
During the late 1920s, the “Big Three” automobile manufacturers – Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler – emerged as the most important companies in the industry. Automobiles also soared in Europe.