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The Economist | Cars: Gloom and boom

The Economist

Cars
Gloom and boom
The motor industry’s fortunes are increasingly divided, says Peter Collins. But in the right markets and with the right technologies, they look surprisingly bright

A HUNDRED YEARS ago Henry Ford and his engineers perfected an idea whose time had come: the moving assembly line. By putting the car on a conveyor belt, they cut the time taken to assemble a Ford Model T from 12 hours and 30 minutes in 1913 to just one hour and 33 minutes the following year. That made the car a lot cheaper to build and opened up a mass market for it. By 1918 its list price was down to $450, or just over 5 months’ pay for the average American worker, against the equivalent of about a year and a half’s pay when the car was launched a decade earlier. Cars became a personal badge of status, and in time carmaking became a badge of national virility.

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