The number of automotive companies in the world has grown and shrunk over the century since the motorised car was first introduced. Some companies have become household names, while others have faded into obscurity and often non-existence. While certain companies are absorbed into other larger companies, a few automotive giants still have their own identity in America and abroad.
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Ford was the company that started it all for the American auto industry. Founding the company in 1903 in Dearborn, Michigan, Henry Ford changed the way America worked. Ford Motor Company was the first to use the moving assembly line, creating a type of manufacturing soon referred to as "Fordism."
After introducing the Model T (also called the Tin Lizzie) Ford Motor Company went on to manufacture some of the best-selling cars in American history. Ford is now the fourth largest automaker in the world, employing 210,000 people in its 90 plants across the globe. The company produces multiple brands of autos, including Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo.
General Motors, commonly called GM, is one of the world's largest automotive companies and the largest in the United States. Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, General Motors began in 1908 following in the footsteps of Ford Motor Company. Today, the automotive giant produces cars and trucks in 34 countries and employs 204,000 people.
General Motors produces numerous brands of automobiles including Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. The U.S. Treasury now owns the majority of the company after the United States government invested nearly £39 billion to save the automaker. General Motors filed bankruptcy in 2009 and then reorganised months later following the bailout.
Over the past decade, Nissan Motors has become one of the fastest growing automotive companies. Since 2003 Nissan has doubled the variety offered for sale in its line and, as a result, sales have nearly doubled as well.
Nissan, originally known as Datsun, was started in Japan and is now a worldwide company. The Nissan name was first used in the 1930s as an abbreviation of the holding company Nippon Sangyo. Soon afterward in 1933, Nissan Motor Company was born. Eventually the Datsun name was phased out.
With 206,000 employees within the company and in affiliated companies, Nissan is one of the major automotive players in Japan and the world. In 2008, Nissan produced more than three million vehicles at its facilities in Japan, the United States, Mexico, the UK and beyond.
Toyota is the world's largest automobile maker based on sales. The Japanese company has been making passenger cars since 1936. The global company manufactures all Toyota brand automobiles, and also owns Lexus and Scion. The company is also a shareholder in Daihatsu, Hino Motors, Isuzu and Yamaha Motors.
Toyota's operating philosophy was key to the company's success. The company developed the idea of "just in time" production in which the plants produced just enough vehicles to meet demand on a regular basis. This ability kept costs down and has allowed Toyota to remain one of the leaders in the industry.
Recalls and a downturn in sales between 2007 and 2010 have hurt company profits by billions of dollars, but the company remains in competition with the rest of the world's automakers.
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