In the early years, there was no way to know that Detroit would come to dominate the car industry. There were 69 companies that entered the auto industry between 1895 and 1900 and all were found right there in Detroit. Olds Motor Works became the city’s first major car maker when it relocated from Lansing in 1900. Ransom Olds made a decision that changed the course of the industry; rather than create hundreds of small components in-house for his Curved Dash Runabout, he subcontracted much of the work to companies in Detroit’s manufacturing sector.
What is funny is that those that were in the actual manufacturing of the parts eventually started to think that since they knew how to put a car together that they would launch their own brands. From the Old’s subcontractors came the Briscoe brothers, these helped build Buick, and the machinist, Henry Leland, created Cadillac and Lincoln. The Dodge brothers worked years making parts for Ford and Olds. Ransom Olds left Olds Motor Works to found the REO car company. All of these ventures and more were based out of or near Detroit.
The number of US car makers peaked at 272 in 1909, this includes the major manufacturers in New England and Ohio. In and during the 1910’s, Detroit brands pulled away. In 1915, 13 out of the country’s 15 most popular car brands were in Detroit. Ford invested heavily in research and development, distancing their products from those outside of Detroit.
The industry consolidated in one geographic area, Detroit, followed by parts suppliers and skilled laborers, made it impossible for the competition. So like in past history, they sold out to Detroit. Clearly, Detroit made the cut in every way possible and that my friends, is how Detroit rules the American car industry. I’m sure you must know that there is a lot more history, I’ll leave that to you. It’s important to know where the industry started. Hope you enjoyed it.