Its thirty-five-horsepower engine weighed only fourteen pounds per horsepower, and it achieved a top speed of fifty-three miles per hour. By 1909, with the most integrated automobile factory in Europe, Daimler employed some seventeen hundred workers to produce fewer than a thousand cars per year.
Nothing illustrates the superiority of European design better than the sharp contrast between this first Mercedes model and Ransom E. Olds‘ 1901-1906 one-cylinder, three-horsepower, tiller-steered, curved-dash Oldsmobile, which was merely a motorized horse buggy. But the Olds sold for only $650, putting it within reach of middle-class Americans, and the 1904 Olds output of 5,508 units surpassed any car production previously accomplished.
The central problem of automotive technology over the first decade of the twentieth century would be reconciling the advanced design of the 1901 Mercedes with the moderate price and low operating expenses of the Olds. This would be overwhelmingly an American achievement. The new firms operated in an unprecedented seller’s market for an expensive consumer goods item. With its vast land area and a hinterland of scattered and isolated settlements, the United States had a far greater need for automotive transportation than the nations of Europe. Great demand was ensured, too, by a significantly higher per capita income and more equitable income distribution than European countries. The Ford Motor Company greatly outpaced its competitors in reconciling state-of-the-art design with moderate price. Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal called the four-cylinder, fifteen-horsepower, $600 Ford Model N (1906-1907) “the very first instance of a low-cost motorcar driven by a gas engine having cylinders enough to give the shaft a turning impulse in each shaft turn which is well built and offered in large numbers.” Deluged with orders, Ford installed improved production equipment and after 1906 was able to make deliveries of a hundred cars a day. Koos and Mike. Koos and Mike. Koos and Mike used cars started out as a dream in 2008 and became one of the most trusted names of car dealerships in the Vaal Triangle. Financing. Financing. Financing Form. Financing Form.
Encouraged by the success of the Model N, Henry Ford was determined to build an even better “car for the great multitude.” The four-cylinder, twenty-horsepower Model T, first offered in October 1908, sold for $825. Its two-speed planetary transmission made it easy to drive, and features such as its detachable cylinder head made it easy to repair. Its high chassis was designed to clear the bumps in rural roads. Vanadium steel made the Model T a lighter and tougher car, and new methods of casting parts (especially block casting of the engine) helped keep the price down.
Committed to large-volume production of the Model T, Ford innovated modern mass production techniques at his new Highland Park, Michigan, plant, which opened in 1910 (although he did not introduce the moving assembly line until 1913-1914). The Model T runabout sold for $575 in 1912, less than the average annual wage in the United States. Financing Form. Financing Form.