Home » Car Industry in the USA- How Big it Is?

The automotive industry covers all the businesses and ventures that produce motor cars and their bulk of parts. Although having its roots in Europe in the late 19th century, the United States conquered the global automotive industry in the early part of the 20th century due to the expansion of mass production practices. The condition was considerably transformed during the upswing of Japan and Western European nations as major automobile manufacturers in the 20th century. In this article, we’ll discuss history, automotive industry statistics, and emerging trends in the car industry in the USA.

History of the Car Industry in the USA:

In Early Eras & before WW1:

Thomas B. Jeffery and Ransom E. Olds started mass-producing their cars soon after the automotive industry emerged. Large-scale commercial organizations and mass production in the automobile industry emerged together, but they had separate origins. The groundwork was provided by trailblazing individuals such as J. Frank and Charles Duryea, bicycle mechanics who created the first practical American gasoline automobile in 1893.

There was a surge of experimentation during this time, with over 1,900 businesses fighting for a share of the emerging market. Ford’s goal of mass production paid off in 1908 when the recognizable Model T became available to the general American household at a cheap price. The US is now the world leader in auto production due to Ford’s assembly lines, which revolutionized the auto industry.

General Motors Corporation (GM), which eventually rose to become the biggest automaker globally. Founded in 1908 by William C. Durant, it is the world’s largest privately owned manufacturing company. Taking over the struggling Buick Motor Company in 1904, he turned it into one of the leading American manufacturers. The concept for a combination that would create a range of models and manage its component manufacturers was created by Durant.

With famous brands like Chevrolet, Dodge, and Cadillac, the “Big Three” (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) dominated the market during the 20th century. By generating millions of jobs and reshaping the country’s infrastructure around the vehicle, these businesses contributed to American wealth.

WWII Transformation:

Due to the economic ramifications of the Great Depression, fierce competition from the Big Three, and/or poor management, numerous automakers failed in the 1930s. The economy had a special impact on luxury automakers, resulting in the closure of businesses including Cunningham, Pierce-Arrow, Peerless, Marmon, and Stutz Motor Companies.

This was temporarily altered by World War II. Automakers halted the manufacture of civilian cars and shifted their operations to build military vehicles like tanks and jeeps. But throughout this time, technology also advanced in ways that would eventually affect civilian automobiles.

In reality, there was no real attempt to even limit the production of civilian automobiles until after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Until 1940, the United States had made very little progress toward industrial mobilization. It took until 1943 for the German automobile industry, which produced the military vehicles required for the blitzkrieg, to be entirely transformed to military manufacture.

Post-war time and foreign competition:

Car ownership increased dramatically after World War II. Americans embraced the vehicle like never before, driven by economic expansion and a need for mobility. Muscle cars, sleek, powerful automobiles that embodied the spirit of America, came into their own at this time.

But imperfections started to show by the 1970s. Fuel-efficient and dependable foreign automakers, especially those from Japan, began to gain traction when the oil crisis revealed the inefficiencies of American gas-guzzlers.

Difficulties and Transformation (1980s-2000s):

The ensuing decades brought with them difficulties and adaptations. Foreign manufacturers posed a serious threat to the Big Three, which compelled them to increase fuel efficiency and quality.  The recession that greeted the 1990s brought about a decline in car sales and operating losses.

The start of the 2000s was marked by a recession in early 2001 and the fallout from the September 11 attacks, which had a big impact on the sales and profitability of the car industry.
The environment changed as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Chrysler came dangerously close to failure before receiving government assistance.

Electric Vehicles’ Rise & Present Condition:

Growing apprehensions drove the sector to explore a new frontier: electric cars (EVs). In the twenty-first century, EVs gained a lot of popularity even though they were not a novel idea. With its graceful and potent electric vehicles (EVs), Silicon Valley startup Tesla upended the market and made established automakers pay attention. The US auto sector is now making significant investments in EV technologies. The Big Three are introducing new electric vehicle models to take against Tesla and other well-known EV producers.

Executive Order 14057, which mandates that all new light-duty cars sold in the US by 2035 be 100% electric, was imposed and signed by President Joe Biden in December 2021.
By 2026, all newly sold passenger cars must have mechanisms installed that prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol content exceeds legal limits, as stipulated by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Michael Regan, Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, proposed stricter vehicle emissions regulations on April 12, 2023.

USA Automotive Industry Statistics:

Here is a quick analysis and statistics of the USA automobile Industry:

  • The United States automobile industry reported selling 13.75 million cars and light trucks in 2022.
  • A third of the US GDP is attributed to the automobile sector.
  • The US market for cars and auto manufacturing is expected to be worth $104.1 billion in total by 2023.
  • About 1.7 million people work in the automotive industry. Employees work in design, engineering, manufacturing, and sales.

    An employee at a car dealership made, on average, $25.76 per hour in March 2023.
Trends in the Automotive Industry:

A quick overview of increasing trends in Car Industry is given below:

  • Huge producers are increasing the number of electric vehicles they sell to satisfy consumer demand and adhere to tighter emissions standards. Google and Apple are also entering the market. In the sector, Tesla is already leading the way.
  • The auto sector is about to be completely overturned by autonomous vehicles. The US car industry will continue to be shaped by the advancement and application of autonomous driving technologies.
  • Especially with the Internet, entertainment systems and integrated networking functions in cars are becoming more and more common. To improve user experience and offer cutting-edge services, this trend encourages cooperation between automakers and tech businesses.
  • In metropolitan regions, ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft have gained popularity. The rise of shared mobility can be attributed to several factors, including growing urbanization, shifting consumer preferences, and the demand for affordable transportation options.
  • The preference for larger vehicles, especially trucks and SUVs, has grown among American consumers. Greater capacity, adaptability, and usefulness are provided by these cars. The top three best-selling cars in the United States are the RAM truck, Ford F-Series, and Chevy Silverado.


The automotive sector is undergoing a lot of change right now. What the auto industry looks like in the coming years will depend on several things, including consumer preferences, technological adoption, and the speed at which innovation is occurring. To guarantee a pleasant ride for future generations, the US auto industry has the opportunity to reinvent itself as the world moves toward a cleaner future.

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Seeniya Vipin

Passionate content creator with a track record of producing over 1000 pieces of content for various online platforms, including blogs and business websites.