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A close up of a robotic arm working on a car.
  1. Changes in Industry in the United States
  2. U.S. Auto Industry
  3. Changes in the U.S. Automobile Industry
  4. The Auto Industry in the Midwest
  5. Foreign Investment in Industry in the U.S.
  6. Workplace Safety Standards
  7. Work-related Injuries and Deaths
  8. The American Dream and the Housing Industry
  9. The American Dream and the Mobile Home
  10. The Rust Belt
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Sign in front of a gas station, saying
Due to the 1973 oil crisis, gasoline was in short supply.
Photo from National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Changes in the U.S. Automobile Industry
A number of smaller automobile companies tried and failed during the 1950s to penetrate the dominance of the “Big Three,” Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, which gradually absorbed most of them in the 1960s. The industry was dealt a heavy blow by the 1973 Oil Shock, which raised the price of gasoline. This increased the operating costs of large, heavy American cars that could often go less than ten miles on a gallon of gas (4.3 km/liter). At that time, Chrysler, the Number 3 automaker, faced the possibility of bankruptcy but was saved by a highly unusual loan from the federal government. Chrysler recovered but encountered new problems of foreign competition in the 1980s, along with the other auto companies. All three firms have survived by becoming multinational. The automobile industry remains the largest single manufacturing industry in the U.S. on a wide range of measures including total output value and number of employees. The U.S. auto industry employs more than 1.3 million workers, and constitutes about one-fifth of U.S. wholesale business and one-fourth of U.S. retail trade. As a result of increased international competition in the domestic market, the share of the American market captured by the “Big Three”’—Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, and General Motors—has declined.
Special Terms: Oil Shock

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