Introduction: The Global Auto Industry Through the Lens of Technology

In the first two decades of the 20th century, the automotive industry was a dynamic, high-tech industry frequently gracing the pages of Scientific American. Outside investors provided seed money to hundreds of ventures, almost all of which soon failed. The occasional success generated great wealth, filling the Detroit Institute of Art with the works of European and American masters, and outside the United States enriching the founding families of Fiat, Citroën, Honda, and Volkswagen. Other fortunes were made by parts suppliers and distributors. Today the industry is again technologically dynamic, replete with brash new entrants, venture finance and a host of players—particularly ...

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