Car History 4U

History of Motor Car / Automobile Production 1900 - 2003

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1.1 The Increasing Number of Cars

    • At the start of the twentieth century there were only about 8,000 cars in the United States and possibly not more than 25,000 worldwide.
    • Most cars in the early 1900s were located in either the United States or Europe. In 1908, for example, there were only about 20 cars in Tokyo, Japan.
    • There were 300 cars in the United States in 1895, 78,000 in 1905, 459,00 in 1910 and 1.7 million in 1914.

    • In 1903 just under 63,000 cars were built in the world of which about half were produced in France.

    • By 1910 there were 100,000 cars in Great Britain.
    • By 1968 the worldwide figure had increased to 170 million; a figure that had more than doubled to 375 million by 1985.
    • In 2002 there were 530 million cars worldwide, of which about 25% (130 million) were in the United States.  

1.2 Production

    • United States: During the period 1896 to 1930 over 1,800 car manufacturers were believed to have existed in America.
    • Possibly as many as 75% of these were formed prior to the mid 1920s. By the early 1940s a high percentage had gone out of business.
    • Worldwide: The number of car manufacturers that have existed worldwide is estimated at between 3,000 to 4,000. More than 50% of these were in the United States.
    • By the start of the twenty-first century the countries that have had the most car manufacturers are: United States, Great Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Canada and Australia.
    • In 1900 France produced more cars that any other country.
    • Of the 4,192 cars manufactured in the United States in 1900, 1,681 (40.1%) were steam, 1,575 (37.6%) electric and 936 (22.3%) gasoline
    • In 1904 the United States started to manufacture more cars than France.
    • At the end of World War 2 the Japanese were banned from making private cars until 1947 when they were permitted to produce 300.
    • The three largest car manufacturers in 1998 were Japan (8 million), United States (5.5 million) and Germany (5.3 million).

1.3 Manufacturers with Origins in War Production

    • BMW and Messerschmitt (Germany), SAAB (Sweden), Hotchkiss (France), Bristol (Great Britain), Skoda (Czech), Steyr-Puch (Austria)
    • This list is almost certainly incomplete.

1.4 The Top Selling Cars

    • Toyota Corolla: By 2006 Toyota (Japan) had sold more than 35 million.
    • Production started in 1966 and in 1997 it became the top selling car of all time.
    • Volkswagen Golf: By 2006 Volkswagen (Germany) had sold more than 25 million.
    • Production started in 1974.
    • Volkswagen Beetle: By 2003, when production ceased, 21,529,464 cars had been produced.
    • Production started in 1946.
    • The last car was produced in Mexico.
    • It is the best selling car in the world whose shape has remained fundamentally the same.
    • Ford Escort: Between 1968 and 2003 nearly 20 million were produced.
    • Ford Model T: By 1927, when production ceased, Ford had produced just over 15 million. Note: A figure of 16.5 million has also been quoted.
    • Production started in 1908.
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