American car industry – VO

It’s important to know how the American automotive industry has lived until now and how it will continue. You will be surprised to learn that thanks to Henry Ford the automobile industry has taken a new turn in the United States and then worldwide but it has also influenced another area that is related.

When Henry Ford was born on July 30th 1863, the North American continent was covered with railroad tracks. A few decades later, a change occurred : the United-States rolled out thousands of kilometers of motorways. It was the civilization of motels, drive-ins, outdoor cinemas that young people enjoyed to going to, comfortably installed, milk shake in hand, in their first car. But he also made the facts disappear in the 50s, with the appearance of new governmental rules in the United States. These new rules applied mainly for fast food chains which were developing and gradually replaced the user-friendly roadside places. Henry Ford succeeded not only in breaking production costs, but also, by extension, in making available to all the freedom that a car offers. He invented a major concept called Fordism.

Thanks to the assembly line, Ford reduced the manufacturing time of the Ford Model T from 12 ½ hours to 93 minutes. In addition, Henry Ford offered generous salaries of $ 5 a day. Indeed, to sell more cars, it was first necessary that employees could buy them. « If you lower wages, you reduce the number of your customers by the same amount » Henry Ford said. This method shocked the industry, driving costs down and bringing our world into an era of mass production and consumption.

Henry Ford’s assembly line

But, a few years later, the American auto industry suffered a decline. The three major car manufacturers: Ford, General Motor and Chrysler, saw their market share decrease in favor of Japanese brands. Indeed, the Japanese had designed lighter and more reliable small cars that appealled to society. As a result, while US brands were losing sales and selling factories, Japanese brands saw their sales increase and expand their number of plants. But American companies still did not think they were totally lost until the Japanese established companies on the American continent. The Americans had to react with vigor and common sense.
Hence, significant progress has been made on American products : international technical standards, greater reliability, more attractive style. In addition, mergings (for example : General Motors / Toyota, Chrysler / Mitsubishi) also made it possible to understand Japanese methods.

The American auto industry is like a person coming out from a long illness. It lost a few pounds, but for it own good, and, above all, it took advantage of her convalescence to think about the future. « To fail is to have the opportunity to start again in a smarter way » as Ford once said.
Today, companies diversify their ranges as much as possible to meet the needs of a maximum number of customers. Added to this is the need for technological development. Indeed, with sustainable development, industries seek to create vehicles that consume as little fossil fuels as possible. For this, hybrid and electric cars are created. In addition, sales of these cars are expected to increase by 3% per year or to reach half of sales by 2023, since these electric cars meet the majority of Americans who travel an average of less than 40 km per day. But, contrary to what one might think electric vehicles do not date from yesterday. As early as the 19th century, this were just another electric trolley built by the Irish inventor Robert Anderson. Electricity then became the preferred method of the moment for the propulsion of engines.

So it can be said that Henry Ford, hoping to build a profitable automotive company and finding solutions to gain even more profit, has succeeded in shaking up the economy and the business around the world, in a large number of fields. Should we thank him for this new economic turning point? It’s up to you to judge for yourself and to make your own opinion! But you can go and visit :

Food for thought: « An immense amount of knowledge can be acquired simply by tinkering with things. The way everything is made can not only be learned from books », as Henry Ford once said.
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Emma Douadi