Remaking the Auto Industry

  • Levi Tillemann


Henry Ford built his first vehicle, which he called the quadricycle, over the course of about six months. Both his wife, Clara, and his friend James Bishop chipped in substantially. A decade and a half later, the Ford Motor Company built its ten millionth automobile. The comparison to Henry Ford’s quadricycle effort is stark: the Model T factory employed roughly five thousand times as many laborers and took about 1/2000th the amount of time to build a car. This staggering increase in scale and efficiency was facilitated by the introduction of the assembly line in 1908. Over the coming century, that simple innovation would expand the frontier of manufacturing efficiency to dizzying effect. The assembly line would progressively destroy and reconstitute the global economy in a giant wave of creative destruction—forever optimizing efficiency of production and churning out goods for a world of hungry consumers. Today, that line remains the beating heart of the global manufacturing economy.

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© Daniel Sperling 2018

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  • Levi Tillemann

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