Automotive Manufacturing – Then and Now

When I was an automotive instructor I liked taking the time to discuss with my students how automotive manufacturing has evolved over the last 100+  years. Let’s look at the assembly line in 1913 and now in 2013.

Ford Motor Company’s Moving Assembly Line

Henry Ford is often credited with first implementing the assembly line into automotive production. But it was actually Ransom Olds that did it first. What Ford perfected and implemented was the “moving” assembly line. Even though the ever popular Model T was introduced in 1908, it wasn’t until 1913 that Ford implemented the moving assembly line at his new plant in Highland Park, MI. In just a year, he reduced the time to build a car from 12 hours and 30 minutes to just 1 hour and 33 minutes. Below is a video of Ford’s moving assembly line from 1919.

Tesla Motors Modern Plant

Fast forward 100 years. It is now 2013, the 100 year anniversary of Henry Ford’s moving assembly line. The automotive company that has the attention right now is Tesla Motors and their flagship car the Tesla Model S. The number of robotics used in Tesla’s plant is amazing. Words cannot do it justice. Automation is optimized to the fullest.

Manufacturing Behind the Scenes

To create an automobile from raw materials, many processes have to take place. Everything from tool making, die casting, CNC machining, plating, and painting. RD Castings gives an overview of many of these processes and the high tech machines used to complete them.

About the Blogger

Michael Gray is co-author of Auto Upkeep – a basic car care curriculum used by over 500 schools and thousands of homeschoolers in the United States and Canada. You can become a “Fan” of Auto Upkeep at

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Michael Gray

Mike has roots in the automotive service industry. He began diagnosing and fixing cars at a young age in his family’s service station. He has worked in automotive parts supply stores, towing companies, and service facilities. After graduating from St. Cloud State University (MN) with a Bachelor’s degree, he implemented and taught a basic car care program at the high school level. During work on his Master’s degree at Illinois State University (IL), he was a curriculum specialist on a National Science Foundation project where he co-authored ten integrated mathematics, science, and technology books designed for team teaching. Mike has also supervised teachers in Career and Technology Education as a school system administrator.

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