In 1918, only 1 in 13 families owned a car. By 1929, 4 out of 5 families had one. In the same time period, the number of cars on the road increased from 8 million to 23 million. In fact, the industry grew so fast; by 1925 over 10% of all people in the workforce had something to do with production, sales, service, or fueling of automobiles.
Buying on Credit
At first, a buyer had to have cash to purchase a car. Banks were unwilling to lend money for something that was difficult to seize if the borrower stopped making payments. A car could be moved from place to place, unlike a house or land. In 1919, General Motors and Dupont introduced the concept of buying a car on credit. But instead of getting financing through a bank, they formed the General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC). By 1926, 75% of all car buyers were entering into credit purchase agreements. Ford’s Sales Decline
Between used car sales to lower income families, and attractive financing options on new cars for the middle class, Ford began to see a decline in sales. After resisting change for several months, Ford finally chose to shut down production from May to November 1927 to design a new car and re-tool his factories. Ford sold 300,000 Model A's before the first one appeared on the market. It quickly became the most popular car, but the unplanned shutdown had cost Ford plenty. With over 40 other companies making cars in 1929, competition began to increase. The Car’s Influence on Society
The automobile changed the way people worked, conducted their business, and shopped for needs and wants. Doctors were among the first to buy cars, which made it easier for them to make house calls. Police officers could now answer calls more quickly than on foot or horseback. Cars also changed how people spent their leisure time. It gave us easy access to the world beyond our neighborhoods, our cities, and even our states. With a car, some extra income, and more leisure time, motor...