During the early twentieth century, the automobile industry became the backbone of a new consumer goods society. This new industry created a number of benefits, including the availability of better schools and medical care in rural areas. It also stimulated outdoor recreation and tourism. It paved the way for economic growth, and ultimately became the lifeblood of the petroleum industry.
In the United States, the demand for automobiles was greater than in Europe, because the country had a higher per capita income. Moreover, automobiles provided a convenient form of transportation and were affordable for middle class families. Hence, automobile production soared in the United States.
By the end of the nineteenth century, several individuals had attempted to create a vehicle that could go as far as 10 miles, and a few had even achieved this feat. In the late 1800s, German and French engineers refined the concept of the automobile. However, Europe did not use mass production techniques until the 1930s. Until then, the industry had been split into several segments.
The first successful two-stroke engine was invented in 1876 by Sir Dougald Clerk. In 1885, Karl Benz developed the world’s first practical car. His design, a three-wheeler powered by an internal combustion engine, was patented. It was also the first car to be designed with a chassis.
The first automobile to be built from the ground up was the Daimler-Maybach model, manufactured by the Daimler Motoren-Gesellschaft, in 1890. By 1909, Daimler had the largest integrated automobile factory in Europe. During the 1920s, he was one of the leading manufacturers in the world.
During the mid-1920s, the automobile industry became the largest industrial consumer in the United States. It also provided one out of six jobs in the country in 1982.
The United States’s manufacturing tradition led to lower prices for automobiles, and allowed the manufacturing of cars to be affordable for middle-class families. Moreover, the automobile’s low weight and easy maintenance also made it more appealing to consumers.
By the end of the twentieth century, the automobile had overtaken the streets of Europe. During that period, the automobile industry provided jobs for more than one out of six Americans, and the automobile was the only form of transportation for which the public was willing to pay. The automobile also contributed to the development of the steel and petroleum industries.
The automobile industry became a global industry by the 1980s. Today, the industry is a billion dollar business worldwide, and one out of every five passenger cars is manufactured in the United States. A number of foreign automobile manufacturers also have plants in the U.S. These companies include Kia, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet, Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi, Jeep, and BMW. Approximately 70 million passenger cars are built each year, and approximately one quarter of all passenger vehicles are sold in the United States.
By the late 1920s, the automobile had closed the all-steel body and introduced hydraulic brakes, syncromesh transmissions, and high compression engines. These cars were well-built and offered for sale in huge quantities.