Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,116 pages of information and 233,660 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
The motor industry or automotive industry as it is known now, is a wide range of companies and organisations involved in the design, development, manufacturing, marketing, and selling of motor vehicles. It is one of the world's most important economic sectors by revenue.
It began in the 1890s with hundreds of manufacturers that pioneered the horseless carriage. For many decades, the United States led the world in total automobile production.
Both the Napier and Rolls-Royce companies were producers of aero engines; in the latter case, F. H. Royce set to work on a design of engine for the R.F.C., and by October 1915, the "Eagle" was ready for its tests. By February 1918, the company had developed 360 h.p. engines. This had been accomplished without resource to radical re-designing or to any increase in cubic capacity. The Government had recognised that in the motor industry, they had an invaluable aid to the obtaining of supremacy in the air. The demand for Eagles incidentally was greater than the company's own factory could possibly supply, so arrangements were made in America for the machining of 1,500 engines there. Engines produced by the motor industry were employed in most of the fighter and bomber aircraft of the period. Other firms in the industry were rendering equally essential service, either in regard to products associated with motor engineering, or in the manufacture of munitions in fields for which their knowledge and equipment suited them. In 1917 the motor industry came of age, and it could claim with every truth that it had become absolutely vital to the very existence of the nation. Without it the country would have been in desperate shape to combat an enemy which had proved itself always ready and anxious to take advantage of every modern scientific discovery.
In 1929 before the Great Depression, the world had 32,028,500 automobiles in use, and the U.S. automobile industry produced over 90% of them. At that time the U.S. had one car per 4.87 persons.
After World War II, the U.S. produced about 75 percent of world's auto production.
In 1980, the U.S. was overtaken by Japan and became world's leader again in 1994.
In 2006, Japan narrowly passed the U.S. in production and held this rank until 2009, when China took the top spot with 13.8 million units. With 19.3 million units manufactured in 2012, China almost doubled the U.S. production, with 10.3 million units, while Japan was in third place with 9.9 million units.
From 1970 (140 models) over 1998 (260 models) to 2012 (684 models), the number of automobile models in the U.S. has grown exponentially.