A Timeline of the Automobile Industry

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(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi)


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1747: France creates the School of Bridges and Causeways to build a national network of roads
1832: The Michelin family starts a rubber manufacturing firm in France
1836: France introduces a law mandating road maintenance for local governments
1846: Etienne Lenoir in Belgium invents the two-cycle combustion engine
1852: Henry and Clem Studebaker found Studebaker Wagon Corporation in South Bend (Indiana) to make wagons for farmers and miners that becomes the largest in the world
1855: The London General Omnibus Company is created to rationalize the horse-drawn omnibus services
1857: Alexander Wilson founds Vauxhall in London (England) to make pumps and engines
1859: Sylvester Roper in Massachusetts builds steam-powered vehicles
1859: Gaston Plante invents the storage battery
1860: In the USA the horse-drawn car on rails has largely supplanted the horse-drawn "omnibus" but relatively few people can afford the ride (most people live near where they work and shop near where they live)
1862: Adam Opel founds Opel in Germany to make sewing machines
1865: Britain introduces a speed limit of 4 mph for "road locomotives"
1867: Pierre Michaux demonstrates the "velocipede" bicycle at the Paris Exposition
1864: Nikolaus Otto founds a company to make stationary engines (later renamed Deutz)
1868: James Hill in Pennsylvania builds a horseless steam-powered carriage
1870: Yataro Iwasaki founds a shipping firm that would become Mitsubishi
1872: Amedee Bollee in France builds steam-powered vehicles
1873: San Francisco introduces the cable car
1874: Thanks to the westward migration Studebaker has become the largest horse-driven vehicle manufacturer in the world
1876: Nicholas Otto invents the four-cycle internal combustion engine
1877: Albert Pope founds a bicycle manufacturing company in Boston and quickly becomes the main producer of bicycles in the USA
1878: Thomas Jeffery and Phillip Gormully found Rambler in Chicago to make bicycles
1880: The bicycle craze sweeps Europe and the USA, with France having the best network of surfaced roads
1883: Gottlieb Daimler, a former Otto engineer, builds a high-speed gasoline engine for vehicles
1885: Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, another former Otto engineer, invent the motorcycle
1885: Sylvanus Bowser invents a dispenser of fuel (coal oil or kerosene) for lamps and heaters in Indiana
1885: Kemp Starley introduces the "safety bicycle" in England
1886: William Durant founds the Flint Road Cart Company (later Durant-Dort Carriage Company) in Flint (Michigan) to sell carriages
1886: German engineer Karl Benz builds a gasoline-powered car
1886: Otto's patent on his engine expires and it becomes public domain
1887: Frank Sprague installs the first "trolley", an electric streetcar, in Richmond (Virginia)
1888: John Dunlop invents the pneumatic tire in Ireland
1889: Leon Serpollet invents the flash steamer capable of generating steam instantly
1890: Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor, owners of one of the largest machine shops in Paris, build the first commercial car using a Daimler engine and coin the French words for many car-related items (automobile, garage, chaffeur, chassis)
1890: Serpollet drives a self-built steam tricycle from Paris to Lyon in two weeks
1891: Armand Peugeot, the main bicycle manufacturer in France, located in the Montbeliard region, builds his first car
1891: Panhard and Levassor introduce a car with the engine located under the hood in front of the chassis instead of under the seats (a design that allows for more powerful engines)
1891: Ransom Olds in Michigan builds and sells a steam-powered vehicle
1892: William Morrison in Chicago introduces the first electric car of the USA
1893: Edward Murphy founds Pontiac Buggy (later Pontiac Spring & Wagon Works) in Pontiac (Michigan) to make horse-drawn carriages
1893: Benz introduces a gasoline-powered car driven by a 3-horsepower engine and boasting electric ignition
1893: Wilhelm Maybach invents the carburetor
1893: Bicycle mechanics Charles and Frank Duryea manufacture a gasoline-powered automobile in Massachusetts, the first in the USA
1894: Emile Delahaye founds a car manufacturer in France
1894: Emile Levassor wins a car race from Paris to Rouen
1894: Charles Jeantaud introduces the first electric car in Europe
June 1895: Emile Levassor drives 1200 kms from Paris to Bordeaux in 48 hours at a speed of 25 km/h, a feat that causes a car craze in both Europe and the USA, and the Michelin car is the first car to feature pneumatic tires
1895: Harry Lawson, a bicycle manufacturer, founds the British Motor Syndicate
Nov 1895: Albert de Dion organizes the Automobile Club of France
Nov 1895: Charles and Frank Duryea install pneumatic tires on a car and win the first race in the USA, the Chicago Times Herald race , at an average speed of 12 km/h
Nov 1895: "Horseless Age" in Kentucky is the first magazine for automobiles
1895: A low-end tricycle made by financier Albert de Dion and engineer Georges Bouton becomes the most successful car in France and Britain
1895: Rudolf Diesel invents the diesel engine (combustion inside a cylinder and without a spark)
1895: Henry Austin builds a gasoline-powered car in Britain
1896: Bicycle mechanics Charles and Frank Duryea sell the first cars sold in the USA
Nov 1896: The British government finally increases the speed limit to 22 km/h
1896: The Western Wheel Works becomes the main bicycle manufacturer in the USA
1896: Waverly in India introduces an electric car
Mar 1896: Henry Ford, an engineer at Detroit's Edison company, builds his first car, a "quadricycle"
Sep 1896: Ransom Olds builds his first car in Michigan
Sep 1896: Bicycle manufacturer Alexander Winton builds his first car in Ohio
1896: 320 cars are made in France
1897: Henry Morris and Pedro Salom form the Electric Carriage and Wagon to make public electric cabs in New York
1897: Tatra produces the first car in central Europe, the Praesident
1897: Pope debuts its electric car
1897: Robert Bosch in Germany adapts the Deutz magneto ignition to motor vehicles
1897: Alexander Winton drives from Cleveland to New York in ten days (in less than 79 hours of actual driving time)
1898: Frank Seiberling founds the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Ohio
1898: Ferdinand Porsche designs the Egger-Lohner electric vehicle C.2 Phaeton model, or the P1 for short, for carmaker Jacob Lohner
1898: Elwood Haynes and the Apperson brothers found a car manufacturing firm in Indiana
1898: The first automobile show takes place in Paris
1898: Benz sells more than 1,000 cars, mostly in France
1898: A third car manufacturer appears in Germany, Heinrich Ehrhardt's Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach, formerly manufacturer of bicycles
1898: George Whitney and the Stanley brothers (Francis and Freelan) form companies to build steam-powered vehicles, Whitney and Locomobile, both in the Boston area
1898: Andrew Riker forms a company in New Jersey to make electric cars
1898: Charles Ross founds a car manufacturing firm in Britain
1899: Albert North and Harry Hamilton found the Pontiac Spring and Wagon Works in Pontiac (Michigan)
1899: Camille Jenatzy introduces the ontent, an electric car with aerodynamic styling and a sheet body that sets a record of about 100 km/h
1899: Britain uses motor vehicles in the Boer war
1899: Isaac Rice founds the Electric Vehicle Company in New York acquiring the motor carriage division of Pope
1899: Whitney and Widener buys the Electric Vehicle Company and create the Lead Cab Trust, then the main car manufacturer of the USA (2,000 electric cars a year)
1899: Almost 60 car manufacturers open, including Ford's Detroit Autombile Company
1899: The USA produces 2,500 motor vehicles, with New England manufacturers concentrating on electric and steam-powered cars, and with the Midwest concentrating on gasoline-powered cars (where roads are in poor conditions, electricity is not widely available, gasoline-powered stationary engines are widely used in farms, and there already is a vibrant carriage industry)
1899: Louis Renault and his brothers found a car manufacturing company in France
1899: Opel, a bicycle manufacturer, enters the car business in Germany
1899: Giovanni Agnelli founds Fiat to build the first Italian car
1899: James Packard, William Packard and George Weiss found Packard in Warren (Ohio) to make luxury cars
1899: 30 car manufacturers in the USA produce 2,500 automobiles bringing the total on the road to about 8,000, of which about 40% are steam powered, 38% are electric and 22% are gasoline powered
1899: Public transit in the USA is mainly electric vehicles on rails
1899: Winton repeats his Cleveland-New York trip but this time takes along a reporter, thereby generating a lot more publicity and ending the trip in front of a million people
1899: The Renault debuts the first sedan (closed car), the Voiturette Type B
1900: Durant-Dort, that expanded by acquiring subsidiaries, becomes the largest producer of horse-drawn vehicles in the USA selling over 150,000 carriages a year, creating a mass-market for low-priced vehicles and relying on integrated manufacturing operations
1900: At the Paris exposition the USA exhibits machine tools made from high-speed steel (invented by Frederick Winslow Taylor at the Bethlehem Steel Company) that show the superiority of US machine tools over European ones (most of the machine tools used by the French car industry are made in the USA)
1900: 4,800 cars are made in France
1900: Horace and John Dodge found Dodge Brothers in Detroit to make car parts
1900: Bicycle racer Henri Desgrange starts publishing the magazine L'Auto in France
1900: Detroit's population is almost entirely white, with about 50% native people and 50% immigrants from Europe
1901: Ransom Olds introduces the Curved Dash Oldsmobile at $625, thereby starting the Detroit automobile industry, using his own internal combustion engine and using roller and ball bearings manufactured by Alfred Sloan's Hyatt Roller Bearing as well as engines and transmissions from the Dodge brothers (thereby pioneering "outsourcing"), the first car in the world to be produced in large quantities (600)
Nov 1901: In order to capture the market of East Coast cities, Olds has Roy Chapin drive the Curved Dash Oldsmobile from Detroit to New York in nine days
1901: The Paris metropolitan area is the main automobile producing region in the world, with more than 100 car manufacturers (Peugeot being the only major manufacturer in the provinces), and DeDion-Bouton is the leading manufacturer in the world thanks to its 3.5 horsepower compact car introduced in 1899 that sold more than 1,500 units and to the Bouton engine which is licensed all over the world
Oct 1901: Herny Ford wins the first major race in Detroit driving one of his cars and beating Winton
1901: White Sewing Machine introduces its own steam-powered car fueled by Serpolet's flash boiler
1901: Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft introduces the 35-hoursepower Mercedes automobile, a technological breakthrough capable of a speed of almost 90 km/h
1901: John Tokheim invents a fuel (mainly kerosene) dispenser in Iowa
1902: Studebaker enters the car business with an electric model
1902: Hart-Parr in Iowa introduces the first tractor
1902: Bicycle manufacturer Thomas Jeffery introduces his own car, the Rambler, establishing a company in Kenosha (Wisconsin)
1902: The American Automobile Association is organized in Chicago
1902: Howard Marmon founds a car manufacturer in Indianapolis (Indiana)
1902: France makes more cars than all other European countries combined
1902: Riker joins Locomobile as chief engineer of their gasoline-powered cars
1902: Henry Ford leaves his company that is renamed Cadillac by Henry Leland, a machine tool expert, and founds a new company to make cars powered by Dodge's engines
1903: David Buick founds Buick in Detroit but the company struggles and is acquired by Flint-based carriage manufacturer James Whiting
1903: Renault starts making his own engines
1903: Olds makes 4,000 cars, 36% of all cars made in the USA
1903: Horatio Jackson and his mechanic/chaffeur drive across the USA in 65 days on a Winton car, thus publicizing long-distance car touring
1903: Detroit investor Henry Joy acquires Packard and moves its operations to Detrot
1903: Vauxhall begins manufacturing cars
1903: The Vermont physician Nelson Jackson and his chaffeur Sewall Crocker drive from San Francisco to New York in 63 days, thereby inaugurating the age of long-distance car vacations
1903: Ford, with Harold Wills as chief engineer and James Couzens as business manager, produces 12 cars annually per worker whereas Renault makes 1 car per worker
1903: The USA produces 11,200 cars (1,700 by Ford) but is still second to France, and most people still rely on a horse or a buggy with the "horseless carriage" preferred mainly by doctors and the rich and not useful on many of the roads (90% still unpaved)
1903: France's car manufacturers sell more cars abroad than domestically, more than 14,000 total, about one third of the exports being sold in Britain
1903: Several drivers and spectators die during the Paris-Madrid-Paris race
1904: Only 7% of the roads in the USA is surfaced
1904: Leland's Cadillac introduces the Model B, that introduces interchangeability of parts
1904: The USA passes France as the main car manufacturer in the world, and the Midwest contributes 42% of US cars
1904: Daimler opens an integrated factory in Stuttgart to make Mercedes models
Nov 1904: Millionaire carriage manufacturer Durant is hired as general manager of Buick, de facto acquiring the company and using Durant-Dort facilities to save it from bankruptcy, and moves it to Flint
1904: Olds launches the REO car manufacturer
1904: The Automobilwerk Eisenach starts producing the Dixi, designed by Willi Seck
1905: Marmon builds the first cars with a V6-engine
1905: German bicycle producer Neckarsulm Strickmaschinen Union (NSU) produces its first car
1905: Ford hires the foundry worker Charles Sorensen
1905: Riker becomes the first president of the Society of Automotive Engineers
1905: There are more than 200 car manufacturers in Britain, mostly coming from the bicycle world (unlike France, where most came from the metalworking world), mostly located in the Midlands where the bicycle industry was (unlike France, where the car industry is concentrated around Paris itself)
1905: Los Angeles has more cars than any other city (not sure about this one)
1905: Austin opens a factory at Longbridge that makes all components for Austin cars except electrical ones
1905: Both in France and in the USA the main owners of cars are physicians, especially country doctors
1905: Ford makes 25 cars a day
1905: Charles Glidden in New York organizes organizes contests for car builders (the "reliability tours")
1905: Harry Grenner and Clem Laessig found the Automobile Gasoline Company in St Louis and open the first gas stations in the world
1905: The Society of Automotive Engineers is founded to promote standards for the automobile industry
1905: Sylvanus Bowser in Indiana adapts his fuel pump to gasoline
1906: John Tokheim in Iowa adapts his fuel dispenser to gasoline
1906: Cars are used to bring relief to San Francisco after the earthquake and fire
1905: The USA produces 25,000 cars, more than any other country in the world
1906: Charles Rolls and Frederick Royce found Rolls Royce in England to make luxury cars and aircraft engines
1906: Vincenzo Lancia founds a car manufacturer in Italy
1906: Fred Marriot sets a new speed record driving a Stanley steam-powered car, 205 km/h
1906: Ford introduces the technically advanced and relatively cheap 4-cylinder Model N runabout in a factory capable of producing 100 of them each day
1907: Buick's Canadian business partner Samuel McLaughlin founds General Motors of Canada
1907: In most of the USA mass transit is taxed while streets and roads are subsidized
1907: British truck manufacturer Lancashire Steam Motor is renamed Leyland Motors
1907: The USA produces 44,000 cars versus France's 25,000, Britain's 12,000 and Germany's 5,000
1907: The Electric Vehicle Company goes out of business, as the electric car has posted little progress from the beginning and is more expensive to build and operate than gasoline-powered cars (and still resembles the old horse-driven carriages)
1907: Standard Oil of California (SoCal) opens the first gas station on the West Coast
1907: Detroit Electric begins manufacturing electric cars
1907: The USA produces 43,000 cars and there is now a car every 800 people
1907: The first long-distance rally takes two months from Beijing to Paris
1907: The Pontiac Spring & Wagon Works of Pontiac (Michigan) introduces its Pontiac car
1907: New York's bicycle manufacturer John Willys acquires Overland, based in Indianapolis
1907: Buick introduces the low-priced four-cylinder 18-horsepower Model 10 which turns Buick into the second car manufacturer in the world after Ford
1908: Murphy's Pontiac Buggy merges with Pontiac Spring & Wagon Works into Oakland to enter the automobile market
1908: Buick's Flint plant is the largest car factory in the world
Jul 1908: Ford tests the moving assembly line at the Piquette Avenue plant
1908: Renault has become the main French car manufacturer
Oct 1908: Ford introduces the 4-cylinder 20-horsepower open-top one-color Model T for $825 (compared with an average of over $2,000), the first mass vehicle (15 million sold in the next 20 years), sold without tires, fenders, top, windshield or lights, combined with a marketing campaign by Norval Hawkins

1908: Vauxhall introduces the A-Type, one of the fastest cars in the world
1908: Six cars race from New York to Paris via Siberia in 5 months and 18 days
1908: Buick is the largest car manufacturer in the world, selling 9,000 cars versus Ford's 6,000
Sep 1908: Billy Durant founds General Motors in Detroit, with McLaughlin as one of the major shareholders, a holding company that owns 13 automobile companies including the newly acquired Oldsmobile (besides Buick) and 10 parts manufacturers, basically using the same principles of subsidiary acquisitions pioneered at Durant-Dort
1908: Studebaker manufactures cars out of the Detroit factory of Everitt-Metzger-Flanders (EMF)
1908: There are 253 car manufacturers in the USA
1908: Fred and Charles Fisher establish the Fisher Body Company in Detroit to make automobile bodies
1909: General Motors' Buick has become the best-selling automobile in the USA, followed by Ford, Cadillac and Oldsmobile
1909: DeDion-Bouton introduces the V8 engine
1909: Less than 9% of the roads in the USA are surfaceLess than 9% of the roads in the USA are surfaced
1909: Ford sells more than 10,000 Model Ts in its first year of production, and George Pepperdine opens a mail-order business, Western Auto Supply, in Kansas City to sell Model T parts
1909: General Motors buys Cadillac and turns it into its line of luxury cars
1909: General Motors buys Oakland
1909: Charles Kettering and Edward Deeds, two former employees of the National Cash Register Company (NCR), found the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Co in Ohio (Delco) to produce ignition systems
1909: Joseph Hudson and others found Hudson in Detroit to make budget cars
Jan 1910: Ford opens a new factory for mass production at Highland Park, designed by Albert Kahn
1910: General Motors' Oldsmobile introduces a luxury car, the Limited Touring, that offers a speedometer, a clock and a glass windshield
1910: Car manufacturing is 21th among industrial sectors in the USA
1910: Sales of cars increase 4500% over the previous year and production reaches 187,000 up from 4,000 in 1900
1910: Studebaker buys EMF, with Walter Flanders becoming the new general manager
1910: Willys moves Overland to the Pope factory in Toledo and becomes the third largest producer of automobiles in the USA after Ford and Buick
1910: White switches from steam to gasoline
1910: August Horch in Germany builds the first Audi automobile, the Type A
1910: Billy Durant is forced out of General Motors while Charles Nash, a former Durant-Dort worker, is appointed in charge of Buick
1910: Renault diversifies by producing a range of models
May 1910: Ugo Stella and others found A.L.F.A. (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili) in Milan (later Alfa Romeo)
1910: Yoshisuke Aikawa starts the Tobata Casting Company
1910: London General introduces the double-decker bus B-type, designed by Frank Searle,
1911: Masujiro Hashimoto, an engineer trained in the USA, forms Kwaishinsha Jidosha Kojo to manufacture cars in Tokyo
1911: Billy Durant and Swiss-born racing driver Louis Chevrolet found Chevrolet in Detroit
Jul 1911: General Motors becomes the first car manufacturer to be listed on the stock exchange
1911: The first Indianapolis car rare takes place
1911: Charles Kettering invents the self-starter
1911: Delahaye pioneers the V6 engine in its Type 44
1911: Ford opens a subsidiary in Britain
1911: Studebaker has become second to Ford in the US market
1911: Albert Kahn designs the groundbreaking Packard factory on Grand Blvd in Detroit
1911: Buick hires Walter Chrysler as production manager
1911: Willys becomes the second largest producer of automobiles in the USA
1912: General Motors' Cadillac is the first car to use Kettering's electric self-starter
1912: Ford has 7,000 dealers all over the USA
1912: Ettore Bugatti designs the 6-horsepower Peugeot "Bebe"
1912: Bicycle mechanic William Morris founds Morris Motors in England, the first volume maker of cars in England
1912: Charles Nash is appointed president of General Motors and his chief engineer Walter Chrysler is promoted to lead Buick
1912: Ford is the largest car manufacturer of the USA, followed by Willys-Overland
1912: Cadillac introduces the self-starter
1912: Edward Budd in Philadelphia starts a company to manufacture steel frames for cars and builds the first auto body (for GM's Oakland) using his "shot welding" technique
1913: Ford installs the first moving assembly line (at Highland Park), inspired by meat-packing factories, bringing down the time to build a car from a record 12 hour to an average 1.5 hour, with the capability of producing 1000 cars a day, and removing skills from the process, and also ending his dependence on Dodge's components
1913: Chevrolet moves its plant to Flint
1913: Morris Motors introduces the Morris Oxford, a direct competitor of the Model T
1913: The USA produces 485,000 cars out of a world total of 606,000
1913: The Lincoln Highway is completed, the first transcontinental highway (New York to San Francisco), amid a boom in road construction
1913: August Duesenberg and Frederick Duesenberg found a luxury car manufacturing company in Des Moines (Iowa)
1913: George Pierce founds Pierce Governor in Indiana to manufacture speed control governors for agricultural machinery
Jan 1914: Ford doubles the salary of workers, reduces their workhours (to 48 per week) and gives them a share in the company's profit, thus solving the problem of turnover at the assembly lines and thereby creating a new class of consumers, but requires his workers (coming from 100 different linguistic communities) to learn English and enforces "moral" domestic habits (social engineering)
1914: World War II creates a huge demand for motor vehicles and airplane engines
1914: Only 29% of Ford's workers were born in the USA
1914: Rapid technological progress in the US car industry follows the decision by all major manufacturers to cross-license patents for free
1914: Ford's Highland Park plant employs more machine tools (15,000) than workers (13,000)
1914: Studebaker installs the first gas gauge on a car dashboard
1914: General Motors' Cadillac adopts the V8-engine for most of its models
1914: Ford's market share of the car market is 48%
1914: Dodge introduces its own car
1914: Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford found Aston Martin in England
1914: Hashimoto's Kwaishinsha introduces a car named DAT after the initials of his three investors Den Kenjiro, Aoyama Rokuro and Takeuchi Meitaro
Aug 1915: Ford introduces its line of tractors, the Fordson
1915: Cadillac introduces a car employing DeDion-Bouton's V8 engine
1915: Carl-Eric Wickman and Ralph Bogan in Minnesota found the bus company Mesaba Transportation (later Greyhound)
1916: Couzens quits Ford
1916: The Federal Aid Road Act helps improve roads
Jun 1916: Billy Durant, with the indirect help of Pierre du Pont, regains control of General Motors, adding Chevrolet to its portfolio of brands
1916: Billy Durant and Alfred Sloan consolidate car parts manufacturers including Hyatt Roller Bearing into the United Motors Company, Charles Kettering's and Edward Deeds' Dayton Engineering Labs (electrical equipment), Remy Electric (electrical starting, lighting and ignition), Harrison Radiator (radiators), Lovell-McConnell Manufacturing (later Klaxon, car horns), etc
1916: The USA produces 1.5 million cars and there are 3.4 million cars in the USA
1916: Charles Nash, forced out of General Motors by Durant, acquires Thomas Jeffery's company and renames it Nash Motors, purchased with James Storrow's money
1916: Alfred Mellowes founds the Guardian Frigerator Company (later Frigidaire) in Indiana to produce the self-contained refrigerator
1916: Alvan Macauley becomes president of Packard
1916: Ford produces more than 700,000 Model Ts
1917: The Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) is founded in Munich (Germany) to make aircraft engines
1917: Ford begins construction of the River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, the largest integrated factory in the world, designed by Kahn

Sheeler's photo of River Rouge (1927)


Jun 1917: Henry Leland leaves Cadillac and founds Lincoln to manufacture luxury cars
1917: Ford has 28 assembly plants in the USA under the management of Danish-born William Knudsen, a former bicycle mechanic
1917: Packard employees about 1,000 blacks, more than any other car manufacturer
Aug 1917: The US Air Force adopts the Liberty L12 aircraft engine designed by Jesse Vincent at Packard
1918: General Motors acquires United Motors (including Delco and Hyatt Roller Bearing) which then starts making parts only for General Motors brands and Sloan becomes vice-president of General Motors
1918: During World War I car manufacturers diversified into aircraft and munition manufacturing, with the French car industry quadrupling the number of its workers, Fiat becoming the third largest corporation in Italy, Austin becoming nine times bigger, etc
1918: Malcolm Lougheed invents the four-wheel hydraulic brakes
1919: Walter Chrysler leaves General Motors' Buick
1919: General Motors acquires Fisher, which has made nodies for Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Hudson, Oldsmobile, Packard, Studebaker and many others
1919: Citroen introduces the Type A Torpedo, the first mass-produced car in Europe
1919: Willys-Overland introduces the Overland to compete with Ford's Model T
1919: Wills quits Ford and starts Wills Sainte-Claire
1919: General Motors acquires refrigerator maker Guardian Frigerator and renames it Frigidaire
Mar 1919: General Motors creates the General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC), a provider of financing to automotive customers (later Ally Financial)
1919: Hudson introduces the Essex, an affordable closed car
1919: Henry Ford acquires the weekly newspaper Dearborn Independent and uses it for anti-Jewish propaganda
1919: Strikes in the coal and steel industries cause problems to the car industry, as does an increase in interest rates
Jul 1919: Henry Ford acquires the Ford shares owned by minority stockholders thereby turning the Ford company into a family-owned business at a time when most companies were doing the opposite
1919: Andre-Gustave Citroen founds a company to mass-produce cars on an assembly line, the first such company in Europe
1919: Chevrolet introduces Kettering's "copper-cooling" engine that doesn't require a radiator but the car fails
Nov 1920: Billy Durant loses control of General Motors to DuPont and banker Morgan, replaced by Pierre du Pont as interim president
1920: An economic recession causes the collapse of many car manufacturers and both Fort and General Motors narrowly avoid bankruptcy
1920: Ford publishes the antisemitic book "The International Jew"
1920: The USA has one car for every 13 people and Los Angeles has one car for every 5 people (Britain: 1 for every 228, Germany 1 for every 1017)
1920: Toyo Cork Kogyo (Mazda) is founded in Japan
1920: Willys is forced out of his company and replaced by Walter Chrysler
1920: Duesenberg unveils the first car to use Malcolm Lougheed's four-wheel hydraulic brakes
1920: The world produces 2.4 million cars, the USA alone produces 2.3 million
1920: Raymond Dietrich and Thomas Hibbard found LeBaron, a firm to design cars
1921: Walter Chrysler joins Maxwell-Chalmers
1921: Budd celebrates its millionth car body
1921: Giovanni Bertone begins designing cars for Fiat
Jan 1921: Durant founds his own car manufacturing company with plants in Michigan, Oakland (California) and New Jersey (Willys' plant, one of the most modern in the world)
1921: The USA passes the Federal Highway Act for building an interstate system of highways, and there are more than 10 million cars on the road
1921: Ford owns 61% of the car market in the USA versus General Motors 12%
1921: There one car for every 10 people in the USA, and 1 for every 5 in California
1921: Royce Hailey's Pig Stand opens in Dallas, the first drive-in restaurant
1922: A&W opens in Lodi, the first drive-in restaurant in California
1922: Renault installs an assembly line
1922: Austin introduces the Seven, a very light car that becomes popular as a racing car
1922: Swallow Sidecar (SS) Cars (later Jaguar) is founded in England by William Lyons and William Walmsley
1922: Austin introduces the low-ened Austin 7, which becomes Britain's most popular car
Feb 1922: General Motors hires William Knudsen from Ford to run Chevrolet, whose cars benefit from DuPont's colorful paints
1922: Charles Kettering and Thomas Midgley discover that adding lead to gasoline yields smoother combustion
1922: Ford acquires Lincoln
1922: The first shopping mall, the Country Club Plaza, opens in Kansas City
1923: Alfred Sloan is appointed president of General Motors by Dupont and begins to rationalize the brands from cheap to luxury models (from Chevrolet to Pontiac to Oldsmobile to Buick and to the luxury top of Cadillac) and introduces the concept of "planned obsolescence" (a new model every year for every wallet and every whim versus Ford's aging Model T)
1923: Dodge introduces the first steel closed car
1923: Ford employees almost half of all blacks employeed in the US car industry
1923: Morris, that has always relied on other firms' components for his cars, finally acquires his main suppliers
1923: New York state begins removing curbside gas pumps
1923: DuPont and General Motors develop Duco, a quick-drying, durable, inexpensive, and colorful automotive lacquer
1923: John Hertz founds the Hertz Drive-Ur-Self System in Chicago
1923: The first 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place
1923: The USA produces 3.7 million cars, half of them Ford Model T, and 800,000 from General Motors
1923: There are more than 100 car manufacturers in the USA, but the top 10 account for more than 90% of the sales
1923: The Springfield is the first car with a radio
1923: Nash acquires the Mitchell Motor Car Company plant in Racine (Wisconsin)
1923: Fiat builds the largest car factory in Europe, the Lingotto
1923: New York inaugurates the Bronx River Parkway, the first publicly funded urban freeway
1923: John Hertz in Chicago founds the bus manufacturer Yellow Coach hiring London General engineer John Rackham
1924: 441,000 cars are registered in Los Angeles
1924: Citroen buys car bodies from Budd
1924: Knudsen becomes president of GM's Chevrolet, creating a more flexible, distributed system of production than Ford's, and relying more on outside suppliers, e.g. replacing specialized machine tools with general-purpose machine tools
1924: GM's Oakland debuts a car painted with Duco
1924: Morris Motors employs the first "transfer machine" (automated transfer line) in the car industry
1924: A&W introduces the "tray girls" serving food to customers in cars
1924: 70% of the cars sold in the USA are replacing previous ones
1924: Britain passes France as Europe's main car manufacturing country
1924: General Motors and Standard Oil introduce a gasoline additive, ethyl, that launches the vogue of high-octane gasoline
1924: Maxwell introduces the Chrysler Six that features the first high-compression engine for a mass-market car
1924: Half of the cars in the world are Ford Model T, which now costs on average less than $300
1925: General Motors acquires Vauxhall
1925: Ford is producing almost 500,000 tractors a year
1925: Ford adopts the closed sheet format for the Model T
1925: Stanley, the last major manufacturers of steam-powered cars, shuts down
1925: Maxwell is renamed Chrysler by Walter Chrysler who has seized control
1925: Francis Davis builds a practical power steering system
1925: James Vail in San Luis Obispo opens the first "motel", the Milestone Motel, designed by Arthur Heineman
1925: European car manufacturers are dependent on machine tools from the USA
1925: General Motors acquires Yellow Coach, the largest manufacturer of buses
1926: John Rackham is hired as chief engineer of Leyland
1926: Daimler, Maybach and Benz merge their car manufacturing companies into the Stuttgart-based Daimler-Benz (later Mercedes-Benz) with Porsche in charge of designing racing cars
1926: Hashimoto's Kwaishinsha (based in Tokyo) merges with Jitsuyo Jidosha (based in Osaka) and becomes DAT Jidosha Seizo
1926: Ford's Highland Park plant has 43,000 machine tools
1926: Henry Ford writes an article of the "Britannica" in which he uses the term "mass production"
1926: General Motors renamed the Oakland as Pontiac
1926: The USA produces 4 million cars, the vast majority sold on credit, and the car industry has become the largest in the country, triggering booms in oil, steel, glass and rubber
1926: Alfieri, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore, and Ernesto Maserati found a car manufacturer in Italy specializing in racing cars
1926: Hudson's plant surpasses Ford's in efficiency, slashing the time it takes to make a car down to 90 minutes
1926: More than 10,000 cars are stolen in Los Angeles, mostly by male teenagers who then abandon them
1926: General Motors introduces the mechanical fuel pump
1926: General Motors hires Harley Earl, designer of custom cars for Hollywood stars
1927: General Motors sells more than one million cars and moves head of Ford
1927: The price of oil plummets after discoveries of huge wells in Oklahoma and Texas
1927: More than 80% of cars sold in the USA are now closed cars
Jun 1927: General Motors creates an Art and Color Section (later Styling Section) to improve the style of its cars
1927: There is one car for every 5.3 people in the USA (almost 2 in California) but only one per 44 in Britain and France, 1 per 196 in Germany, with the USA owning about 80% of all motor vehicles in the world
1927: In the USA it takes 70 man-days to make a car whereas in France it takes 300
1927: Volvo, a subsidiary of Sweden's ball-bearing manufacturer AB SKF, debuts its first car
1927: Henry Ford is forced to close the Dearborn Independent
1927: Phillips introduces the 66 gasoline
1927: General Motors introduces the La Salle, designed by Earl, to fill the gap between the low-end Buick 6 and the high-end Cadillac
1927: General Motors' Cadillac introduces the LaSalle, with smooth lines contrasting with the functional but angular shape of Ford cars
1927: Citroen is the largest car manufacturer in Europe and the fourth in the world
1927: There are more than 20 million cars in the USA and 55% of families own a car but more than 50% of cars sold are replacing old ones (saturation of first-time buyer market)
1927: Ford finally stops production of the Model T (that has sold more than 15 million units) and introduces the massively advertised Model A, conceived by Henry Ford's son Edsel Ford, to respond to General Motors, and adopts the clutch that has become popular on General Motors cars
1927: Dixi signs a licensing agreement to produce a variant of the Austin 7
1927: Chevrolet sells more cars than Ford
1928: Opel has a 37.5% market share of the German market
1928: John Rackham is hired as chief engineer of bus manufacturer Associated Equipment Company (AEC)
1928: Ford makes cars in 21 countries, GM in 16
1928: Pierce Governor introduces the automatic choke
1928: BMW acquires Dixi and therefore enters the car market
1928: Ford's River Rouge Complex extends over 1.5 square kms of floor space and employs 100,000 workers, providing vertical integration from raw materials to finished cars
1928: Tobata starts making parts for automobiles and Aikawa Yoshisuke founds the holding company Nihon Sangyo
1928: Henry Ford builds Fordlandia, a town in the Amazon rainforest, to provide rubber for car tires, forbidding alcohol, women and tobacco
1928: Battista "Pinin" Farina founds the design firm Pininfarina in Italy
1928: Chrysler acquires Dodge and introduces a budget car, the Plymouth, to compete with Chevrolet and Ford
1929: General Motors acquires Opel and becomes the largest car manufacturer in Germany
1929: There are more than 825,000 tractors in the USA
1929: General Motors enters the aviation market with the purchase of Allison Engineering
1929: Chrysler becomes the third largest car manufacturer in the USA after General Motors and Ford
1929: There are only 44 car manufacturers left in the USA, out of the 253 that existed in 1908
1929: 78% of the world's cars are in the USA, which produces more than 5.3 million cars and sells about 4.5 million (1.9 million sold by General Motors), compared with France's production of 211,000 and Britain's 182,000, and there are now almost 27 million cars in the USA
Oct 1929: The stock market crashes, causing vast losses in the car industry, and ruining Durant, who was repeatedly accused of inflating the stock market; and the crash is in part due to excessive consumer debts to purchase cars
1929: Ford owns rubber plantations, coal mines, iron mines, glass plants, a railroad and ships
1929: Chevrolet introduces a six-cylinder engine nicknamed "cast iron wonder"
1930: General Motors' Cadillac introduces the V-16, featuring a 16-cylinder engine
1930: The world produces about 4 million cars, of which 2.4 million in the USA, 237,000 in Britain, 230,000 in France, and 500 in Japan
1930: Galvin Manufacturing's car radio
1930: General Motors buys two companies specializing in diesel engines, Winton and Electromotive
1931: Ferdinand Porsche founds a company in Stuttgart (Germany) to design racing cars
1931: Morris introduces a new version of the Minor that, advertised as a 100-mph speed and 100 mpg fuel economy car, becomes a runaway success
1931: Mercedes introduces the independent front suspension
1931: The Highland Park Shopping Village is built in Dallas
1931: Mercedes-Benz introduces the 170, the first production car with four-wheel independent suspension
1931: Rolls-Royce acquires Bentley
1931: Toyo Kogyo introduces its first car, the Mazda-Go
1931: There are 1.3 million kms of paved roads in the USA
1931: DAT becomes a subsidiary of Tobata and introduces a car named Datsun
1931: General Motors de facto assumes control of Greyhound, which pledges to buy only Yellow buses
1932: Ford manufactures one third of the world's cars but its workforce has been reduced from a peak of 170,000 in 1929 to 46,000
1932: Ford introduces the first car designed specifically for the British market, the Model Y "Popular"
1932: Frank Lloyd Wright's "The Disappearing City" imagines a city that relies only on cars
1932: General Motors appoints Nicholas Dreystadt to run Cadillac and he explicitly targets affluent African-Americans
1932: Car manufacturing has collapsed to 1.3 million in the USA
1932: Ford introduces its own V8 engine, cast as a single unit, the largest engine for the mass market, and 14 car models that use it
1932: Packard introduces the luxury Twin Six, designed by Jesse Vincent
1932: Police and Ford's security guards (headed by Harry Bennett) open fire on the Ford Hunger March of unemployed workers
1932: The Soviet Union and Ford form a joint venture, Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod (GAZ)
1932: The National Highway User Conference (NHUC), headed by Alfred Sloan, begins lobbying the US government to promote highways
1933: Veeder-Root introduces the Slye computer meter for gasoline pumps (gasoline sold by dollars, not by gallons)
1933: Hitler comes to power in Germany and launches a mass motorization program and a road and bridge construction program
1933: Citroen introduces the diesel engine for its Rosalie model
1933: Tobata Casting and Nihon form the Motor Vehicle Manufacturing (later renamed Nissan) to produce Datsun cars in Yokohama
1933: At the Chicago World's Fair General Motors exhibits Charles Kettering's improved diesel engine
1933: The New Deal sponsors road construction
1933: Richard Hollingshead in New Jersey opens the first drive-in movie theater
1933: Kiichiro Toyoda's company opens a motor vehicle division
1933: Tobuta Casting and Nippon form the Motor Vehicle Manufacturing (later renamed Nissan) to produce Datsun cars
1934: Porsche-designed P-Wagen wins several races
1934: Morris installs an assembly line at a new Cowley factory
1934: Citroen introduces a car with an all-steel body and independent suspension, the Traction Avant, but the car is a flop
1934: Chrysler introduces the automatic overdrive
1934: Edward Budd builds the Zephyr, the first stainless-steel train and the first to use Kettering's diesel engine, and sets a new record for the Denver-Chicago journey
1934: REO introduces automatic transmission
1934: Chrysler introduces overdrive
1934: Hans Ledwinka designs the Tatra 77, the first mass-produced streamlined car
1934: Chrysler introduces the eight-cylinder Airflow, that pioneers (and launches the vogue of) streamlined (aerodynamic) design, designed in a wind tunnel, although its sales disappoint
1934: Bertone designs the Fiat Ardita
1934: The Hollywood blockbuster "It Happened One Night" spurs a nationwide mania for bus travel
Jan 1934: Porsche presents a plan for a "volkswagen" to Hitler
1935: Michigan auto workers form the union United Automobile Workers (UAW)
1935: The USA creates the Works Progress Administration (WPA) that spends ten times more on streets than on mass-transit
1935: Studebaker introduces an all-steel roof made by Budd
1935: Oklahoma City is the first city in the world to install parking meters
1935: There is one car for every 5 people in the USA
1935: General Motors assists New York in replacing electrical streetcars with buses
1936: General Motors introduces "Knee-Action" suspension on all Chevrolets
1936: General Motors and Ford share almost 90% of the Japanese market
1936: Two diesel cars are introduced in Germany, the Mercedes-Benz 260D and the Hanomag Rekord
1936: General Motors, Standard Oil and Firestone form National City Lines (NCL) to motorize mass transit replacing electrical streetcars with buses
1936: Charlie Chaplin satirizes Ford's assembly line in "Modern Times"
1936: BMW introduces the 328 Roadster, the most successful sports car before World War II
1936: Chrysler (25% of the market) passes Ford (22% of the market) as the second car manufacturer after General Motors (43%)
1936: Strikes paralyze General Motors until General Motors signs the first union contract in the USA
1936: John Tjaarda and Bob Greogirc design the new streamlined (aerodynamic) Lincoln Zephyr
1936: Fiat opens a futuristic factory at Mirafiori that debuts its assembly line to produce the 500 "Topolino", designed by Dante Giocosa (mechanics) and Rudolfo Schaffer (body)
1937: Kiichiro Toyoda founds Toyota to manufacture trucks
1937: Fiat has more than 80% of the Italian market
1937: General Motors makes 40% of the cars of the USA
1937: Harry Bennett's security guards beat up members of the UAW trying to recruit Ford workers ("Battle of the Overpass")
1937: Volkswagen is founded in Germany by the Nazi agency Deutsche Arbeitsfront to make cars that ordinary families can afford, the Kdf-Wagen designed by Porsche
1937: General Motors introduces "the Automatic Safety Transmission" (AST) in Cadillac and Oldsmobile cars
1937: Nash retires and his company merges with George Mason's appliance manufacturer Kelvinator to become the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation under Mason's leadership
Feb 1937: Following workers' strikes, General Motors and Chrysler recognize the UAW, Ford does not
1937: Sloan becomes chairman of the board and Knudsen president of GM
1937: The Automobile Safety Foundation (ASF) created by the Automobile Manufacturers Association begins lobbying the US government to promote highways
1938: Volkswagen introduces the Type 1, designed by Ferdinand Porsche
1938: Cadillac's 60 Special is a standard-size car that carries six passengers
1938: Nash introduces the "Conditioned Air System" designed by Eric Wahlberg
1938: Rudolf Caracciola driving a Mercedes-Benz sets the world record of speed on a highway at 432.7 km/hour
1938: General Motors adds the radio as an option on Buick models
1938: General Motors introduces the Buick Y-Job, the first "concept car", designed by Harley Earl, featuring power windows, power convertible top, power door locks and power steering
1938: Joseph Frazer is hired from Chrysler to run Willys
1938: Ford introduces the Mercury, a low-entry luxury car to compete with General Motors' Buick
1939: Nash adds a thermostat to its "Conditioned Air System" for the "Weather Eye", the first HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system for the mass market
1939: Greyhound has 4,750 stations and nearly 10,000 employees
1939: California approves a plan to build a freeway system in the Los Angeles metropolican region
1939: The Japanese government shuts down Ford's and GM's operations in Japan
1939: The radio and refrigerator manufacturer Crosley enters the car business with the cheapest car in the USA, the first "compact" car made in the USA
1939: Ford introduces the luxury convertible Lincoln Continental, designed by Bob Gregorie
Oct 1939: General Motors' Oldsmobile introduces the first fully automatic transmission, designed by Earl Thompson, the "Hydra-Matic Drive", advertised as "the greatest advance since the self-starter."
1939: World War II creates a huge demand for motor vehicles and aircraft engines
1939: The Japanese government orders Nissan to shift from cars to trucks
1940: Delahaye introduces the 135 convertible that can reach a speed of 150 km/h
1940: The first freeway opens, the Pasadena freeway in Los Angeles
1940: Chrysler's Plymouth introduces the new All Weather Air Control System
1940: Chrysler adopts the sealed beam headlights
1940: Walter Chrysler dies
1941: General Motors has a market share of 44% in the USA
Jan 1941: Knudsen moves to Washington to work for the president on war production and is replaced by Charlie Wilson as president of GM
Jun 1941: A strike at Ford's River Rouge plant forces Ford to recognize the UAW
1941: Chrysler introduces the Town & Country wagon
1941: Japan shifts military production from motor vehicles to aircrafts
1941: Willys starts producing the MB or "Jeep" for the army, with a special engine designed by Barney Roos
Feb 1942: All the car manufacturers of the USA stop production of civilian cars to help the military industry, e.g. General Motors produces engines for bombers, amphibious vehicles and tanks, Ford produces trucks, Willys-Overland produces jeeps
1943: Arie Jan Haagen-Smith proves that gasoline causes smog
1944: Sorensen resigns from Ford
1945: At the end of the war the car manufacturers of the USA resume civilian production
1945: Ralph Teetor invents cruise control
1945: Henry Ford dies and is succeeded at the elm of the company by his grandson Henry Ford II
1945: Tata Motors is established in Mumbai to build locomotives for India
1945: Henry Kaiser and Joseph Frazer found an automobile company (later renamed Kaiser Motors)
1946: Charles Wilson replaces Sloan at the helm of General Motors
1946: Merile Key Guertin founds the Best Western chain of motels in California
1946: General Motors and Ford introduce auto financing programs so that people can buy cars on credit
1946: Renault introduces the 4CV
1946: Enzo Ferrari founds a company in Italy to build racing cars
1946: Michelin introduces steel-belted radial tires
1946: Japan has a 40% tariff on foreign imports, plus low-interest loans and government subsidies to domestic car manufacturers
1946: Greyhound buys more than 1,500 new GM Silversides buses
1946: Edwin Quinby, a retired naval lieutenant commander, accuses the car industry of scheming to destroy the electric streetcar system in the USA in order to create a larger market for cars
1947: Chung Ju-yung founds Hyundai in South Korea
1947: Ford creates the Automation Department, the first corporation in the world to do so, and appoints Delmar Harder to manage it
1947: Studebaker introduces the Starlight, designed by Robert Bourke, and the Champion, designed by Raymond Loewy
1948: General Motors' Buick introduces a new kind of automatic transmission, the Dynaflow
1948: The British appoint Heinz Nordoff to head the Wolfsburg factory in West Germany where Hitler's "people's cars" were made and he changes the name to Volkswagen
1948: General Motors' Cadillac passes Packard to become the USA's main luxury brand
1948: Citroen introduces the 2CV, designed by Pierre-Jules Boulanger
1948: Preston Tucker in Chicago introduces a futuristic car, the 48, designed by Alex Tremulis, but builds only 51 of them
1948: Soichiro Honda founds a motorcycle manufaturing company
1948: Chrysler introduces the ignition key
1948: Goodrich introduces tubeless tires
1948: Frank Hershey designs General Motors' Cadillac with the "rudder-type" tailfin
1949: The first Volkswagen is sold in the USA
1949: Cadillac introduces a car powered by the new "Kettering engine" capable of 160 horsepower, starting a hoursepower race in Detroit
1949: Car manufacturing in the USA finally passes the old 1929 peak with 6.3 million cars made
1949: Jaguar introduces the sports car XK 120
1949: Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget (later Saab) begins making cars
1949: Nash's "Airflyte" features an aerodynamic body shape designed in a wind tunnel by Nils Wahlberg'
1949: On average there is one car per family in Los Angeles (one per 2.5 families in New York)
1949: Chrysler Crown Imperial introduces disc brakes in the USA
1949: NCL and General Motors are convicted of creating a monopoly
1950: NCL and its affiliates have motorized the railway system of dozens of major US cities
1950: Nash introduces the compact car Rambler, that launches a new generation of small cars
1950: Ford passes Chrysler in the USA and becomes number two after General Motors again
1950: Lancia's Aurelia is the first major car with a V6 engine
1950: Nino Farina wins the first Formula One championship on an Alfa Romeo
1950: Japanese car manufacturers produce 2000 cars
1950: The USA has 40 million cars and gasoline consumption has increased 42% over 1945, and General Motors is the main manufacturer in the USA, followed by Ford and Chrysler
1950: Studebaker introduces the "bullet nose" design
1950: General Motors introduces the Chevrolet Bel Air Hardtop, a convertible with a non-detachable solid roof
1950: Ford adopts automatic transmission
1950: The world produces 10.5 million cars, of which the USA produces 8 million (75%), Britain 784,000 and Japan 32,000
1950: The USA has a world market share of 76.2%
1951: General Motors presents the concept car LeSabre, designed by Harley Earl, with heated seats and even a sensor to raise the top when it started raining
1951: Chrysler introduces the first power steering system on a production car
1951: Ford opens the Cleveland engine factory, the most automated factory in the world, the first one to extensively employ transfer machines
1952: 73% of world cars are produced in the USA
1952: Colin Chapman and Colin Dare found car manufacturer Lotus in England
1952: Morris and Austin merge into the British Motor Corporation (BMC)
1952: Pininfarina begins building car bodies for Ferrari
1952: General Tire buys Crosley and the compact car is discontinued
1953: General Motors' Chevrolet introduces the sports car Corvette
1953: General Motors' Cadillac introduces the convertible Eldorado
1953: General Motors introduces the BelAir
1953: Henry Kaiser acquires Willys-Overland (later Kaiser Jeep)
1953: Studebaker introduces the Loewy coupe
1953: Volkswagen plans full automation of body welding and assembly at its Wolfsburg factory
1953: Taiichi Ohno invents "lean manufacturing" at Japan's Toyota
1954: Nash's Airflyte gets equipped with the first single-unit heating and air conditioning system
1954: Volkswagen is the fourth largest car manufacturer in the world after Detroit's big three
1954: The Mercedes 300SL introduces fuel injection, besides featuring disc brakes, independent suspension and radial tires, way ahead of US competition
1954: Fuji Heavy Industries of Japan begins making cars with the Subaru 1500
1954: Packard merges with Studebaker
1954: Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson merge into the American Motors Corporation (AMC), the only US manufacturer to focus on small cars (the Ramblers), and hire George Romney as CEO
Dec 1954: The Japanese government launches a "buy Japanese" campaign
1955: Foreign brands account for 14% of car sales in the USA
Mar 1955: The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) enacts a policy forcing foreign manufacturers to buy Japanese parts
1955: The Big Three of Detroit own 94% of the US market (GM 50%, Ford 27%, Chrysler 17%) and foreigners own only 2%
1955: Citroen introduces the DS, designed by Flaminio Bertoni
1955: Toyota introduces the Crown
1955: Frank Hershey designs the Ford Thunderbird, meant to compete with the Corvette
1955: Alfa Romeo introduces the two-seater coupe Giulietta Spider, designed by Pininfarina
1955: Fiat introduces the 600, designed by Dante Giacosa, the first compact car
1955: Japan produces 69,000 cars
1955: The world produces 13.7 million cars, of which the USA produces 9.2 million (67%), Britain 1.3 million and Japan 69,000
1956: The first Japanese car is sold in the USA, but imports account for less than 1% of the total 7.2 million cars sold in the USA
1956: The Soviet Union introduces the Volga to replace the GAZ
1956: Germany becomes the second largest producer of cars after the USA ahead of Britain
Apr 1956: Sloan is replaced by chief accountant Albert Bradley as chairman of General Motors
1956: The USA passes the Interstate Highway Act to build over 20 years a nation-wide network of freeways, turning many towns (motels, restaurants, souvenir shops) into ghost towns, the success of lobbying by NHUC and ASF and dooming mass-transit in the USA
1956: General Motors introduces the Roadmaster
1956: Chrysler introduces the Torqueflite with a technologically advanced automatic transmission
1957: Maserati introduces the high-performance sports car 3500GT, conceived by Giulio Alfieri
1957: NSU introduces the Prinz
1957: Fiat introduces the Nuova 500, designed by Dante Giacosa
1957: DuPont is forced by the US government to disinvest from General Motors
1957: Chrysler's Plymouth introduces the Fury, targeting a younger audience
1957: Fiat introduces the ultra-compact 500
1957: Juan Manuel Fangio wins the Formula One championship a record fifth time
1958: The American Motors Corporation (AMC) introduces the compact car Rambler, one of the lowest priced cars built in the USA
Sep 1958: Consumer dissatisfaction in the USA grows, the USA imports more cars than it exports for the first time in 50+ years, and the New York Times writes that US cars have become "overblown, overpriced monstrosities sold by oafs for thieves to sell to mental defectives"
1958: There are more than 4,000 drive-in theaters in the USA
1958: Chrysler's Imperial is the first car to offer cruise control
1958: Lotus introduces the sports car Elite
1958: Daimler-Benz acquires Audi (now renamed Auto Union)
1958: General Motors presents the aircraft-inspired concept car Firebird III, designed by Harley Earl, with titanium skin, a gas turbine engine, a double bubble cockpit, cruise control, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, remote door opener, an automated guidance system, and a joystick controller for steering
1958: Chevrolet introduces the Impala, its expensive passenger model
1958: Buick and Oldsmobile introduce huge and vulgar cars
1958: Datsun introduces the 1000 in the US market but the car is a flop
1959: Alec Issigonis designs the Mini for the British Motor Corporation (BMC)
1959: General Motors' Cadillac introduces the eccentric Series 62 and the rocket-like Cyclone, designed by Harley Earl
1959: Foreign manufacturers (mainly Volkswagen) sell 700,000 cars
1960: Chrysler adopts automatic transmission
1960: The German government turns Volkswagen into a public company, owned mainly by thousands of its workers, at a time when Volkswagen accounts for 42% of all German-made cars
1960: Chrysler introduces the alternator
1960: Ford introduces its own compacts, the Falcon and the Comet
1960: Ford, Gm's Vauxhall and Chrysler own more than 50% of the British market
1960: Mass transit in many cities of the USA has been destroyed, in part because of highway construction sponsored by NCL, ASF and NHUC (all organizations funded by the car industry), one theory being that, as the rural market gets saturated, urban freeway become essential to the expansion of the car market (more than 70% of the US population lives in metropolitan areas)
1960: Car manufacturers of the USA (mostly around Detroit) account for 93% of the cars sold in the USA and 48% of those sold in the entire world
1960: General Motors' Chevrolet introduces the Corvair, the first rear-engine car in the USA and the first Chevrolet with fully independent suspension for each wheel, a compact car competing with the small European cars, particularly the very similar Volkswagen, but it proves unsafe
1960: Volvo introduces the sports car P1800
1960: The Rambler sells 500,000 unit, the only car made in the USA to compete with foreign compacts
1960: Peugeot introduces the 404, designed by Pininfarina
1960: Saab introduces the 96
1960: The world produces 16.4 million cars, of which the USA produces 7.9 million (48%), Germany 2 million, Britain 1.8 million, France 1.4 million and Japan 482,000
1961: General Motors introduces the Pontiac Tempest, designed by John DeLorean by modifying the Buick Special
1961: Jaguar introduces the sports car E Type
1961: Arie Jan Haagen-Smit proves that pollution is mainly caused by gasoline
1961: BMW introduces a prototype of the the 1500 sedan which is cheap and fast
1961: Leyland buys Standard Triumph in Britain
1962: General Motors' Chevrolet introduces the Chevy II, a no-frills car, with the Nova being its top model
1962: Chrysler introduces its own compact, the Valiant
1962: Ferrari introduces the 250 GTO, with an engine designed by Giotto Bizzarrini
1963: Porsche introduces the sports car 911
1963: Torino's population grows to 1.1 million from 753,000 of a decade earlier thanks to immigration from the south of Italy, mostly due to Fiat
1963: Larry Shinoda designs General Motors' Corvette Stingray
1963: Bill Mitchell designs General Motors' Buick Riviera
1963: Ferruccio Lamborghini founds a car manufacturer to make sports cars
1963: General Motors' Pontiac introduces electronic ignition
1963: Honda enters the car market with the S500
1964: General Motors' Pontiac introduces the sport car GTO, the first "muscle car" (small-car, big-engine) of the USA, mostly designed by John DeLorean, targeting the illegal drag racing on Detroit's Woodward Avenue
1964: NSU introduces the Wankelspider, the first car sporting a Wankel engine
1964: Volkswagen acquires Audi
1964: Ford introduces the Mustang, a sports coupe based on Falcon components with a long hood and short rear, a two-seater to replace the Thunderbird, conceived by Lee Iacocca for the youth market, a runaway success
1964: Toyota introduces the Tiara (Toyota Corona PT20) for the US market, whose sales would double every year until 1971
1965: The James Bond movies publicize the Aston Martin two-seat coupe
1965: The USA enacts the Motor Vehicle Air Pollution and Control Act
1965: Train passenger volume declines to 298 million from a high of 790 million in 1946
1965: British Motor acquires Jaguar
1965: The USA enacts the Vehicle Air Pollution and Control Act, mandating tighter emission standards
1965: The USA produces 45% of world's cars, Japan only 7% (1.9 million cars), but Japan has passed France to become the world's fourth largest producer
1965: Consumer advocate Ralph Nader publishes "Unsafe at Any Speed", attacking the unsafety of US-made cars
1965: Leyland buys Rover
1966: Volvo introduces the 144, a major improvement in safety
1966: Alfa Romeo introduces the Duetto or Spider
1966: The Soviet Union approves a a joint venture with Fiat, Lada/Zhiguli, at a new city named after Italy's most famous communist politician, Togliatti
1966: The USA mandates safety standards for cars
1967: Toyota introduces the Corolla
1967: The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) enacts export guidelines, the "Hakone declaration", for Japan's six car manufacturers (Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Tokyo Kogyo)
1967: Toyota introduces the 2000GT, the first Japanese car that can compete with European sports cars
1967: Fiat is the largest European car manufacturer, followed by Volkswagen
1967: Lamborghini introduces the Miura, designed by Gianpaolo Dallara, that sets a new standard for the look of high-performance sports cars
1967: General Motors' Chevrolet introduces the Camaro to compete with the Ford Mustang
1967: Japan passes Germany and becomes second after the USA in worldwide car production
1968: The Volkswagen Type 1 is nicknamed "Beetle" in the USA
1968: Hyundai enters the automobile market with the Cortina, a joint venture with Ford
1968: British Motor acquires Leyland
1968: Giorgetto Giugiaro founds a design studio in Italy
1968: Ferrari introduces the 365 GTB/4, aka "Daytona" as well as the cheaper "Dino"
1968: Volkswagen's Audi introduces the 100
1968: Chrysler's Plymouth introduces the muscle car Road Runner
1968: Nissan's Datsun introduces the 510
1968: Japan produces 4.1 million cars
1969: Nissan's Datsun introduces the rear-wheel-drive two-door high-performance sports car 240Z ("Fairlady"), the first Japanese car to conquer the US media
1969: Volkswagen acquires NSU
1969: Fiat buys Lancia and Ferrari
1969: Mitsubishi introduces the Galant
1970: more than 60% of automobile workers in Detroit are black
1970: The USA expands the Clean Air Act and establishes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce it, with Detroit claiming that such low emissions by cars are impossible and Japan simply building such cars
1970: Lada/Zhiguli introduces its first car, the Vaz-2101, a version of the Fiat 124
1970: Workers' alienation at car factories causes strikes and absenteeism both in Detroit and in Western Europe (25% absenteeism at Fiat's Mirafiori plant)
1970: The USA passes the "Clean Air Act" that limits the pollution caused by cars and calls for phasing out leaded gasoline and for the adoption of catalytic converters
1970: General Motors opens the Lordstown plant, boasting the fastest assembly line in the world, which employs 26 Unimate robots to build the Vega, and churns out 104 cars per hour
1970: A 67-day strike at General Motors ends with GM granting expensive benefits to its workers
1970: AMC acquires Kaiser Jeep
1970: The world market (29 million cars) changes dramatically with the USA producing 8.3 million cars (28%), Japan 5.3 million (18%), Germany 3.8 million (15%), France 2.75 million (9.3%), Britain 2 million
1970: The American Motors Corporation (AMC) introduces the compact car Hornet
1970: Japanese car manufacturers produce 5 million cars
1970: Toyota introduces the Celica
1971: General Motors introduces the compact car Vega
1972: There are 112 million cars in the USA, almost half of all the cars in the world
1972: John Jerome publishes "The Death of the Automobile"
1972: The Volkswagen Beetle passes Ford's Model T to become the best-selling car of all times
1972: Motor vehicles increase from 64 million in 1949 to 281 million in 1972 (119 million in the USA alone)
1972: Volkswagen's "Beetle" becomes the most produced car of all times
1968: More than 56,000 people die in car accidents in the USA
Dec 1973: The OPEC oil crisis sends the price of gasoline skyrocketing and leads to rationing, a fact that favors compact cars over full-size cars and dooms "muscle cars"
1973: Honda introduces its car Civic
1973: Cars in the USA average 13.5 mpg (5.7 km/liter)
1973: More than 15 million "Beetles" have been sold in the USA
1973: John DeLorean leaves General Motors to build his own sports car DMC-12
1973: The Oldsmobile Toronado introduces the air bag
1974: The USA enacts a nationwide speed limit of 89 km/h
Jan 1974: The USA introduces a national speed limit of 88.5 km/h
Mar 1974: Gasoline in the USA costs $0.54 per gallon (3.785 liter)
1974: Due to endless workers' strikes, the productivity of workers in Britain is half the German productivity and one fourth the US productivity
1974: Almost all full-size cars in the USA come with automatic transmission, air conditioning, power steering and power brakes
1974: Volkswagen introduces the subcompact Golf (Rabbit), designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro (Italdesign)
1974: Lamborghini introduces the high-performance sports car Countach
1975: The Volkswagen Polo
1975: General Motors installs catalytic converters on all its cars
1975: Honda introduces the CVCC (or Controlled Vortex Combustion Chamber) engine for the Civic
1975: Datsun and Toyota pass Volkswagen in exports to the USA
1976: Exports constitute more than 50% of Japan's car production
1976: Peugeout acquires Citroen
1976: Volkswagen starts manufacturing cars in the USA
1976: Lotus introduces the sports car Esprit, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro (Italdesign) at the beginning of his "folded paper" phase
1976: 70% of cars sold in the USA have V-8 engines, 21% have 6-cylinder engines, and 8.5% have 4 cylinder engines
1978: Chrysler, virtually bankrupt, hires its new president Lee Iacocca from Ford
1978: Honda introduces the Accord in the USA and passes Volkswagen to become the third foreign manufacturer in the USA after Toyota and Nissan
1978: More than 50% of the imports sold in the USA are made in Japan (about 1.5 million cars)
1979: The Iranian revolution causes another oil crisis in the West
1979: Toyota 26.9 produces motor vehicles per worker, Nissan 22.4, Ford 12.8, Volkswagen 10.6, GM 10.4, Renault 8.3, Leyland 3.5
1979: The largest car manufacturer in Europe is Peugeot-Citrone with 19% of the European production
Sep 1979: The US government saves Chrysler from bankruptcy
Sep 1979: Honda opens the first Japanese-owned car factory in the USA (Ohio)
1980: Volkswagen's Audi introduces the Quattro, a turbocharged coupe with all-wheel drive
1980: Average gasoline price in the USA passes one dollar per gallon (3.785 liter) for the first time ever
1980: There is only one car per 18,000 people in China while 87% of households in the USA owns a car (and 97% of car sales are for replacement)
1980: Japan passes the USA and becomes first in worldwide car production
1980: The USA, Germany, Japan, France and Italy produce more cars than Britain
1980: For the first time Japan produces more cars than the USA: Japan 11 million cars (28.5%) out of 38.6 million, the USA 8 million (21%), Germany 3.9 million (10%), France 3.4 million (9.7%), Britain 1.3 million (3.4%), and Japanese models now account for 30% of sales in the USA
1980: Ford introduces the Taurus
1986: Jack Telnack designs the new aerodynamic Ford Taurus
1981: Citroen introduces the 2CV
1981: The Ford Escort (Mercury Lynx) is the best-selling car in the world
1981: Under pressure from the USA, Japan sets a voluntary quota on car exports to the USA
1981: The USA deregulates the bus industry, causing a price war among bus companies
1981: General Motors introduces on-board diagnostics to monitor the emissions control
1982: Honda is the first Japanese company to manufacture cars in the USA
1982: General Motors launches Project Saturn to lower the costs of car manufacturing
1982: The USA has a world market share of 19.3%, down from 76.2% in 1950
1983: Chrysler introduces the Dodge and Plymouth minivans
1983: More than 44,000 people die in car accidents in the USA, and even more (as a percentage of population) in Western Europe and Japan
1983: Nissan introduces the sports car Z31 or 300ZX
1983: Chrysler opens the first "just in sequence" ("in-line-sequenced") car factory in Ontario
1983: Nissan begins making car at a factory in Tennesse
1983: Ford introduces the aerodynamic Thunderbird (Mercury Cougar)
1984: Ferrari introduces the 12-cylinder sports car Testarossa, designed by Pininfarina
1984: The Chrysler LeBaron is completely computer-designed
1984: Ford has the highest share of the European car market, 13%
1984: General Motors acquires Electronic Data Systems
1984: American (later AM General) introduces the Jeep Cherokee
1984: General Motors owns 44% of the car market in the USA
1985: Steven Lobbezoo builds the first commercially available satellite navigation system for cars
1985: The USA mandates that all cars but have on-board diagnostics
1985: General Motors acquires Hughes Aircraft
1985: General Motors introduces a Toyota-designed Nova built at Fremont (California)
Mar 1985: US president Ronald Reagan relieves Japan of its "voluntary" restrictions on car exports and Japanese exports begin growing exponentially
1985: Malaysia's Proton manufactures its first car
1986: Fiat buys Alfa Romeo
1986: Toyota opens a factory in Kentucky
1986: General Motors owns 34% of the car market in the USA
1986: BMW introduces the M3
1986: Honda introduces the luxury line Acura
1986: Porsche introduces the 959, then the fastest production car in the world at over 300 km/h
1986: Hyundai begins exporting cars to the USA
1987: Ferrari introduces the F40, slightly faster than the Porsche 959
1987: Volkswagen closes its US factory
1987: Chrysler acquires AMC, the last independent car manufacturer in the USA besides the "Big Three", as well as Lamborghini, and introduces the Jeep Wrangler YJ
1988: The world produces 48.3 million cars, of which Japan 12.7 million (26%) and the USA 11.2 million (23%)
1989: Ford acquires Jaguar
1989: Toyota debuts the luxury line Lexus LS
1989: Mazda introduces the roadster MX-5 aka "Miata"
1989: The Honda Accord is the best-selling car in the USA
1990: To fight Japanese competition, General Motors begins production at a completely new plant for a new car with a new dealer network establishing a separate company, Saturn
1990: Hyundai introduces the Avante or Elantra
1990: Honda installs a navigation system on the Acura Legend
1990: Japanese carmakers have a 28% share of the US market
1990: Greyhound files for bankruptcy
1990: Mazda introduces a GPS-navigation syste on the Eunos Cosmo
1991: General Motors and Ford post record losses while Japanese imports boom
1992: Subaru introduces the Impreza
1992: Jaguar introduces the XJ220, then the fastest car in the world
1992: American (now AM General) introduces the off-road vehicle Hummer H1
1992: Chrysler's Dodge introduces the sports car Viper GTS
1993: Ford introduces the SUV Explorer
1994: Chrysler introduces the subcompact Neon
1995: 36 million cars are manufactured in the world, of which 7.6 million in Japan and 6.3 million in the USA, although 8.6 million cars are sold in the USA alone
1996: Malaysia's Proton purchases British sports car manufacturer Lotus
1997: Toyota begins selling a hybrid electric car, the Prius
1997: Porsche introduces the Boxster
1997: General Motors introduces the all-electric EV1
1998: Tata introduces India's first passenger car
1998: Daimler-Benz acquires Chrysler
1998: BMW acquires Rolls-Royce
1998: Volkswagen's Audi acquires Lamborghini
1999: Ford acquires Volvo
1999: Lamborghini introduces the Diablo GT, a sports car whose body is almost entirely made of carbon fiber
2001: Dean Kamen invents the Segway Human Transporter, a self-balancing electric vehicle
2003: Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning found Tesla to build electrical cars in Silicon Valley
2004: Sergio Marchionne becomes CEO of Fiat
2004: Michael Schumaker driving a Ferrari wins his seventh Formula One championship, the world's record
2005: Four of the ten largest companies in the world are oil companies (BP, Shell, Exxon, Total) and four are car makers (General Motors, Toyota, DaimlerChrysler and Ford) and only two are consumer products (Walmart and General Electric)
2005: Sebastian Thrun develops the robotic vehicle Stanley at Stanford University
2006: Both Chrysler and General Motors post huge losses and lay off thousands of workers and are eventually rescued by the government
2007: Toyota passes General Motors as the world's largest car manufacturer and Japanese car manufacturers pass USA car manufacturers even in the USA market
2007: Daimler-Benz sells Chrysler
2007: General Motors/Opel begins testing a hydrogen car, HydroGen3, in Germany
2008: Korean auto-maker Hyundai becomes the fourth-largest automaker in the world behind Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen
2008: Indian car manufacturer Tata buys Jaguar
2008: Tesla debuts the Roadster
2009: Mainland China's car market becomes the world's largest (for the first time more new cars are sold in mainland China than in the USA)
2009: Fiat buys Chrysler
2009: General Motors goes bankrupt and is rescued by the government
2010: South Korea's Hyundai-Kia passes Ford to become the fourth automaker in the world after Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen
2010: Sebastian Thrun joins Google and founds Google X to develop a self-driving car
2010: General Motors' Chevrolet introduces the hybrid electric car Volt
2010: General Motors sells more cars in China than in the USA
2010: Volkswagen's Audi acquires Giugiaro's Italdesign
2014: Hyundai and Toyota introduce the first mass-market hydrogen cars
2014: Panasonic and Tesla sign an agreement to build a battery gigafactory
2015: Tesla releases software for self-driving features on its cars
2016: Chevrolet introduces the Bolt electric car equipped with an infotainment system by Korea's consumer electronics giant LG
2016: General Motors acquires Cruise Automation, a developer of self-driving technology

See also Gas stations and gas pumps


Sources:
James Flink: "The Automobile Age" (1990), by far the best book on the subject
John Rae: "The American Automobile Industry" (1985)
Erik Eckermann: "World History of the Automobile" (2001)
About.com's History of the Automobile
Bryant's History of the Automobile Industry
Various information picked up at Car Museums around the world
Please avoid the anonymous Wikipedia, a colossal archive of disinformation
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(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi)