For my report, I am going to discuss the early automotive industry in America and how it helped transform our great country for the better. This topic really interests me and is a part of my family’s background. I will cover the three car companies known as “The Big Three”, and the effect this industry had on people. By the end of this paper, it will be clear to you that the automotive industry forever changed transportation and the American society. The invention of the automobile came from the idea of the horseless buggy with, instead of a horse powering the buggy, an engine powered it. At the turn of the century, there were fewer than 8,000 automobiles in America. But at the very first auto show in New York City in 1900, the automobile fascinated the American people. Over the next few years, hundreds of companies would try to meet the demands of the growing market. Since the practicality of automobiles was limited because of unsuitable roads, the government passed the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916 and the Federal Highway Act of 1921. Thanks to these Acts, by 1924 the U.S. had over 31,000 miles of paved roads, which made for easier transportation.
As the auto industry began to bloom, three companies, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, also known as the Big Three; rose and started to dominate. The first established of the Big Three was Ford Motor Company. Ford Motor Company was started by Henry Ford. In 1914, Ford introduced the first belt-based assembly line, which forever changed the way cars were manufactured. The assembly line controlled production cost by reducing the time it took to manufacture the automobile. For example, the line produced a car named the Model T. When first made, the car cost $850 but, with the cheaper way of producing it using the assembly line, by 1924 it cost only $290. This made the Model T the first affordable car. With this method of production, Ford for a while, was the largest of the Big Three. The second of the three major companies, General Motors, was founded in 1908 by William “Billy” Durant. The company grew by buying other car manufacturers such as Oldsmobile, Oakland (Pontiac), Cadillac, Chevrolet, and Elmore. GM changed the auto industry by offering more than just a black box like the Model T. They offered cars with stylish colors, features and comfort like no other company had done before. General Motors soon would take Ford’s place as the largest automaker. The last company of the Big Three was Chrysler. Chrysler was founded in 1925 by Walter P. Chrysler and was always the smallest of the three companies. Chrysler was one of the first companies to divide its vehicle offerings by class and function. Plymouth was the cheapest of the classes, Dodge was the middle class, and Chrysler itself was the most luxurious and expensive of the three classes. This appealed very well to the American public. These three companies really helped shape the auto industry into what it is today.
With the invention of cars, life for the American people completely changed. The automobile is the most widely-used form of transportation in both America and the entire world. They have affected all aspects of society, from family life, the economy, and even in the entertainment world. The automobile helped spread out suburbs and made society a more mobile one. Women’s roles in society were also changed. Automobiles allowed women to escape their normal jobs at home and they gained gender equality by competing with men for the same jobs. People became more