When Did Mass Production of the Automobile Start?


With more than one billion cars in the world now it is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine the days when the roads across the world were virtually deserted. In fact, in the US it is reported that it is getting close to a figure of 1 car for every person in the country now. When did it all change, and when were cars mass produced for the first time?

The Oldsmobile Curved Dash

Some people class 1901 as the year of the first mass produced car. This is when American industrialist Ransome Eli Olds started up the first car production line and arguably gave birth to the Detroit car production industry. He started up the Olds Motor Works to facilitate the manufacture of ‘good value’ vehicles, and quickly became the biggest car manufacturer in the US; a status he held for only a brief spell at the start of the 20th century. The Oldsmobile Curved Dash was the main vehicle they built, and it had a huge impact on the industry.

The Ford Impact

You have undoubtedly heard of the Ford Model T. However, maybe you don’t know just how big an impact this revolutionary vehicle had on the world, and on car production in general. It was first manufactured in 1908, and production carried on for almost 2 decades, up until 1927. This car smashed a number of important milestones, such as being the first car to sell a million units.

Why was this? The answer lies in the simple fact that it was the first car that was seen as affordable for the average family. Cars had been around for some time before the Model T was put into production, but they were expensive pieces of technology, seen as luxuries, and the preserve of the wealthy.

How Mass Production Started

While Henry Ford was still planning his Model Ford T, all motorised vehicles were made entirely by hand. This is why they were so expensive to make and to buy. This all changed when Ford was able to differentiate the construction process for the workers into 84 different categories. In fact, in the first month of Model T’s production everything was done by hand and only 11 of the cars were made. Gradually more and more machines were introduced into each of those 84 different parts of the production process. After a few years, and a move to a new factory, Model T cars were rolling off the production line at a rate of one every 3 minutes. Overall, the time needed for making a car had dropped from 12 and a half hours to just 93 minutes.

Using these the new production strategy the mass produced Model T quickly become the world’s most popular vehicle, and before too long the Ford factory was producing more cars than all of its rivals put together. This led at one point to the incredible statistic that half of all of the cars in the world were Fords. Some of the innovations brought in by Ford include the use of electric motors to speed up the sequential production process, and the designing of special tools for faster and more accurate completion of certain tasks.

Current Times

These days there are cars of all types made in production plants all over the world. These range from budget models to high quality sports cars that cost a lot of money. As well as giving a large percentage of the world’s population the chance to own a car, mass produced cars has led to other industries, as people look for spare parts, car finance and value performance car insurance. There is no sign of the world’s love affair with the car ending anytime soon, so they will keep on rolling off the productions lines and on to the roads, perhaps until the first mass produced flying vehicle.




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