During the twentieth century, the automobile industry in the United States grew dramatically. The demand for automobiles in the United States exceeded the European market and more equitable income distribution helped spur growth.
By the mid-1920s, the automobile industry in the United States had become the main customer of the steel and petroleum industries. It was also the backbone of the new consumer goods-oriented society. The United States produced 485,000 motor vehicles in 1913.
The number of active automobile manufacturers dropped from 253 in 1908 to 44 in 1929. The “Big Three” auto companies, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, emerged as the leaders of the industry by the mid-1920s.
By the late 1920s, the automobile had overtaken the streets of Europe and became a major global industry. The automobile industry provided one out of every six jobs in the United States in 1982.
As American manufacturing tradition developed, prices for automobiles were kept low. This lowered the cost of ownership and allowed the middle class to own a car.
The advent of the automobile and its mass production techniques revolutionized industrial manufacturing. Ford’s Model T was the first to use moving assembly lines. Eventually, other auto makers adopted these techniques. These methods required larger capital outlays and a higher volume of sales. This increased unit profits, but came at a social cost of increased air pollution.
In the 1920s, the automobile industry in the United States was dominated by Henry Ford. He opened his first plant in Highland Park, Michigan, in 1910. He installed moving assembly lines in his factory and committed to large-volume production of his Model T.