By Leonardo

See RealPlayer auto manufacturing videos in class folder.

I will start by giving a brief introduction to car manufacturing. In 1889, Panhard & Levassor, a French company, manufactured its first car. Peugeot, a company still around today, came just two years later. Both manufacturers used engines provided by Gottlieb Daimler (Daimler is known today as the maker of Mercedes). These manufactures did not standardize car models. This means that a car built by them was unique, and wasn’t replicated exactly in any other vehicle. There was no Honda Civic or Ford Explorer, each car was matchless.

The first standardized car, the Benz Velo, appeared in 1894. Karl Benz, another famous figure in German automobiles, has his name at the end of the Mercedes-Benz brand.

This is the time when American car manufacturing began to pick up. Charles & Frank Duryea built the first motor vehicle in America in 1893. Three years later, 13 of their limousines were on the road. But they were never relevant again. In 1901, Ransome Eli Olds was first to mass produce a car. The Curved Dash Oldsmobile was built on the first adaptation of an auto assembly line. Though basic, this technology expanded the horizons for auto manufacturing tremendously. From 1901 to 1904 Oldsmobile was the America’s leading auto manufacturer. The brand of Oldsmobile was soon acquired was General Motors. GM dropped the Oldsmobile brand in 2004.

The Olds Assembly Line, also known as “progressive assembly”, used stands to prop the cars onto. The stands were wheeled by workers to each separate work station. This form of mass production allowed for cars to be manufactured much faster, lowering the price of vehicles substantially.

Here is where the facts are a bit disputed. Apparently Henry Ford saw Olds’ ‘assembly line’ at a factory and was inspired to create an even more efficient process. Others say that he was influenced by a Chicago meatpacking factory’s destruction of animals. Some even say that it was not Mr. Ford who created the legendary Ford assembly line, instead, senior officials created the plan. Henry Ford and his top corporate workers were egotistical people, and all wanted to take credit for what is known as one of the most important breakthroughs of the 20th century.

The Ford assembly line improved on the Olds assembly line in numerous ways. Workers were assigned to specific positions, which not only sped up productivity (workers were very skilled at their certain post), but reduced injury rates. Car frames were put on an electrically driven belt, which could be controlled by workers. As the frame made its way down the line, parts were added quickly and efficiently. Before Ford’s assembly line, workers would walk around the factory, doing various jobs; a cycle of 514 minutes, a full work day. But with Ford’s plan, workers had a work cycle of 2.3 minutes: tightening the screws, or attaching the steering column, or installing the seats. This extreme efficiency allowed for the production of a cheap car, the Model T automobile was debuted in 1909 for $825 (about $15,000-$21,000 today, depending on which conversion formula is used), and soon dropped to $575 ($9,500-$13,000). By the 1920s, the price had fallen to an astounding $300 (around $3,500). By comparison, cars in the late 1910s sold at around $2000-$3000 ($50,000-$70,000 today).

Not only was Ford able to create an astoundingly affordable product, but he was able to pay his laborers $5 per day. This wage, unheard of at the time, was impressive all the way into the 50s. Happy and skilled workers helped efficiently create this amazing product: the Ford Model T.

Ford Model T
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Ford Assembly Plant
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