Automobile Industry and Development
II. The Modern Industry
Mercedes Benz e200 (year 2001)
After 1945, sales once again took off, reaching 6.7 million in 1950 and 9.3 million in 1965. The U.S. auto industry dominated the global market with 83% of all sales, but as Europe and Japan rebuilt their economies, their auto industries grew and the U.S. share dropped to about 25%.
Beginning in the early 1980s, Japanese and, later, German companies set up factories in the United States; by 1999, these were capable of producing about 3 million vehicles per year. As a result, the three big U.S. auto makers now produce only 66% of the cars sold in America. In the early 1990s, over $140 billion worth of motor vehicles and parts were produced in the United States by companies employing more than 210,000 workers.
Complaints about auto pollution, traffic congestion, and auto safety led to the passage of government regulations beginning in the 1970s, forcing auto manufacturers to improve fuel efficiency and safety. Auto companies are now experimenting with cars powered by such alternative energy sources as natural gas, electricity, and solar power.