Throughout the twentieth century, automobiles played a vital role in the development of society. They helped spur the growth of tourism and tourism-related industries, brought better medical care to rural America, and stimulated outdoor recreation.
The United States had a higher per capita income than Europe, which made automobiles more affordable. This led to more demand for cars in the United States. The American manufacturing tradition made automobiles affordable to middle-class families. The automobile industry also revolutionized the petroleum industry.
By the end of the twentieth century, the automobile industry was the largest consumer of many industrial products. It was also the lifeblood of the petroleum industry. It provided one out of six jobs in 1982.
In the first half of the twentieth century, Americans rapidly dominated the automotive industry. Henry Ford developed mass production techniques that made automobiles more affordable. This paved the way for other American automobile manufacturers to follow suit. By the mid-1920s, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler became the “Big Three” auto companies.
Automobiles had been around for more than sixteen centuries, but it was not until the late 1800s that they were truly perfected. The first steam-powered car was built in 1769 by Nicolas Cugnot, and the first gas-fueled car was designed in 1866 by German engineers. These innovations set the stage for modern automobiles.
In the early 1920s, the automobile industry was a major customer of the steel industry. This led to more standardization and higher production. Manufacturers began to introduce new designs more frequently.