In 1893, Charles Duryea and J. Frank, who were bicycle mechanics at the time, designed the first successful American gasoline automobile. Designed in Springfield Massachusetts, it would later be sold as the first American-made gas powered car in 1896.
(Duryea Motor Carriage, 1893, Image from https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_694756)
Despite approximately 485 companies entering the market between 1899 and 1909, Henry Ford took the market by storm when he introduced the Model N in 1906. The Model N was quoted by the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal as being “the very first instance of a low-cost motorcar driven by a gas engine having cylinders enough to give the shaft a turning impulse in each shaft turn which is well built and offered in large numbers.”
(File:Ford N.jpg. (2017, August 28). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 16:11, June 19, 2019 from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Ford_N.jpg&oldid=256630066.)
In 1913, Ford introduced the assembly line allowing the mass production of automobiles. The U.S. produced more than three quarters of the world’s motor vehicles that year.
File:Ford assembly line – 1913.jpg, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Ford_assembly_line_-_1913.jpg&oldid=277504200 (last visited June 19, 2019).
In 1914, the Dodge Brothers enter the scene with the Model 30.
(The Dodge Model 30, image from https://www.history.com/news/the-cars-that-made-america)
The Chrysler Corporation was founded by Walter Chrysler in 1925.
File:Walter P. Chrysler at White House.png, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Walter_P._Chrysler_at_White_House.png&oldid=282288071 (last visited June 19, 2019).
In the late 1920s, GM introduces ‘Planned Obsolecense’, removing the company’s focus from innovation, safety and function and placing it on cosmetic yearly upgrades to vehicle models. The goal of the company was to encourage current vehicle owners to upgrade their automobile long before it was no longer usable and to continue driving a profit. Many companies followed suit in what later became known as ‘sloanism’ after the head of General Motors at the time, Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.
File:Chevrolet models 1928.jpg, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Chevrolet_models_1928.jpg&oldid=260813768 (last visited June 19, 2019).
In 1931, Chevrolet (owned by General Motors) releases the AE Independence Six, which becomes the first Chevy to outsell Ford.
Ford challenges this by releasing the very first affordable V8 vehicle in 1932, the Ford Model 18 V8.
In 1953, Chevy introduces ‘America’s Sports Car’, the Chevrolet Corvette Roadster, which was the first American car of its kind but modeled after the British Jaguar XK-120.
After the Great Depression and World War II, many of the competing car companies closed their doors leaving what became known as the Big Three: Chrysler, Ford and General Motors to produce the majority of American cars.
In recent years, Tesla has emerged as a significant player in the U.S. auto industry manufacturing electric cars.