Automotive industry plays a significant role in the infrastructural development of a country. For any growing economy automotive industry plays the role of key driver. Perhaps the growth in the physical mobility of a country is determined by its prosperous automotive sector. In a wide perspective automotive industry comprises of industries, activities and companies that are associated in the manufacture of different kinds of automobiles, motor vehicles, including various components, like engines, body parts, assembling and dissembling of structures etc. The principal products of the industry are vehicles for passengers like buses, cars, taxis, motorbikes, auto rickshaws etc, and then there are pool cabs, light trucks, vehicles for sports utility etc. Among the segment of commercial vehicles is large transportation lorries, big and small delivery trucks etc.
Let us take a brief look into the historical background of the automotive industry. Although the credit of launching the automobile goes to Europe in the late 19th century but at present context the United States took over the complete automobile market of the world. In fact through the invention of techniques of mass production the US dominated the global industry for the first half of the 20th century. But the situation shapely altered during the second half of the 20th century as the Asian countries like China, Japan, Korea and western European countries became major producers and exporters of automobiles.
One of chief factors for the technological advance of global market is the outstanding contribution of the automotive industry. The introduction of mass production in full scale, standardisation, and synchronisation, process of combining precision, interchange ability and continuity are some of the significant features that pushed America to the zenith of this industry. A distinguished “manufacturing system” was introduced by America in which the fundamental techniques were prudently applied in the manufacture of mechanisms heading towards the production of motor vehicles. The experimentation part was shared by Europe while the popular description of interchange ability and standardisation was emphasised by America. The United States is endowed with the fact of being the birthplace of automotives with the factors such as high standard of living, large population and long distances to travel.
Now let’s discuss in detail about American “system of manufacture”, in which they secured distinction in the technique of interchange ability, which was demonstrated dramatically at the British Royal Automobile Club during 1908 in London. At this event, firstly, dissembling of three Cadillac cars were done, their jumbled up parts were mixed together then around 90 different parts were removed randomly and later they were replaced with the dealer’s stock. Finally after reassembling the cars they were driven around 500 miles without any trouble as such. The credit of this mastermind achievement and feat of showmanship goes to Henry M. Leland, founder of the Cadillac Motor Car Company. Later on he along with a noted electrical engineer Charles f Kettering, developed the electric starter. This momentous advancement helped the promoting the huge acceptability of gasoline powered automobile.
Major spectacular growth of automotive sector happened after the end of two great World Wars, when Japan emerged to be leading country in automobile manufacturing leaving behind the strong competitors like the United States, Germany, Great Britain and France. The small and fuel efficient cars of Japan played a major role in the steadily growing export sales of the country. Not only that, the principal automaker companies of Japan like, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan gained impressive exports in western European markets and North America. As the Japanese currency was soaring high this profitable trend was joined by the companies like Suzuki, Isuzu, Fuji and Mitsubishi who all ventured to open manufacturing units around the world in major markets to alleviate the tensions and increase their competitiveness.
According to the latest statistical figures, the United States is leading the modern automotive industry. Here it is the largest single manufacturing enterprise in terms of numbers of wage earners employed, value added by manufacture and total value of products. These firms represent one-fifth of the wholesale business and more than one-fourth parts of it trade in retails. On the other hand this proportion is smaller for other countries that are also associated with this business excluding Germany, France, South Korea and Japan who have been rapidly approaching the status of America.
Under the segment of manufacturing processes the US Company Ford introduced the moving assembly line from which the bulk of world’s latest cars come along. Today the first requisite of this refined and elaborated process is a precisely controlled rate of flow of materials into the assembly plants. Careful control over the flow of materials happened to be an incentive for automotive firms to manufacture their own components directly or through subsidiaries.
Completely integration in a single firm can never be desirable because dashboard instruments, tires, batteries, in house and items of manufacture etc are generally procured and even preferred by largest companies from outside sources.
The reason behind is that it is more economical to buy externally, the suppliers have special equipments and capabilities, outside suppliers puts a check on the costs of the in-house operation. Further an elaborate tooling is needed in the production of a new model where the larger is the output the more is the requirement of highly specialised tools in which the company is inclined to invest. The technique of assembly lines have been more sophisticated by computer guided welding robots, transfer machines, automatic control systems, and several automated equipments that replaced manual operations during high volumes of productions. In 1950, the technique of automatic transfer machines was first initiated by Austin Motors in Britain. Ford Motor Company of the United States applied the first large scale automated installation in the engine plant and led to their first production in 1951. Keeping in mind the prospect of customer choice orientation, the automatic control of universal form has used in computers to systematise the assembly operations to generate variety of body styles, wheel patterns and colour combinations that are programmed in the same assembly line.