Posts Tagged ‘automotive’

“Buying A Southern Car” – Lambert’s Lagniappe – July 2010

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Growing up in Louisiana, my dad drove mostly Chevrolets. My first car was a full sized Chevy Scottsdale truck that we used to haul horses, hay and other things. As a kid, I never thought about purchasing a “foreign car”. Over time, my attitude to foreign cars changed, as has most Americans. In June, I purchased a new Nissan Altima, a car built in Canton, Mis­sissippi. Most people do not realize that today, there are more cars built in the U.S. by foreign owned companies that by the traditional “Big 3” (General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford).

One of the strongest drivers of that trans­formation is the story of the growth of the Southern Auto Industry since the 1980s. While Kentucky remains one of the leaders in the Southern Industry, Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina have all attached foreign automotive producers. Although Mississippi got into the foreign auto assembly industry relatively late, they have also seen their auto industry grow, including the recent announcement of Toyota to develop the Tunica site.

In June, I attended the Southern Growth Policy Board’s meeting in Lexington, Kentucky. It was a very good conference, with a strong focus on the economic development aspect of the Auto Industry. While there was some remarks upon the future of the industry, most felt that the region will remain a strong leader in the production of automobiles, due to its infrastructure and access to markets.

I am in the process of finishing up a study of the automotive industry in the Southeast with Chad Miller at the University of Southern Missis­sippi. We will release the report and annotated bibliography in a few weeks, but clearly the region has benefited from the investment in the auto industry. So, in a twist of fate, I am part of the story that I am researching – how the South has been transformed not only by Foreign Investment in the Auto Industry, but in a changing perspective of the region’s eco­nomic potential.

A Brief History of the Automotive Assembly Plant

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

In preparation for the ITTS session on the automotive industry, Tom Bartkiewicz, who will be the session moderator, developed the following video show on the brief history of the auto assembly plant.  (The link here will open up pdf file.  The file size is 47 megs and will contain 5 five pages – two of which have embedded videos.)

The First Panel – Many people incorrectly assume that Henry Ford invented the car.  Rather, he developed the moving assembly line on which he produced the Model T.

The Second Panel –  Here is a picture of Ford’s line of cars in 1919.  The list of cars has greatly improved in ninety years, but the production process remains relatively unchanged at its core.  Steel, glass, rubber – products are transported and assembled to develop a finished vehicle.

The Third Panel –  The video shows the Highland Park factory – “The Birthplace of Henry Ford’s Assembly Line”.  The basic concept of assembling a car as it moves through the plant remains unchanged today.  Notice the legion of workers working to assemble the car.

The Fourth Panel –  The River Rouge Plant – Henry Ford’s ultimate manufacturing facility, producing a car from raw materials to motorcar in 28 hours.  Ford owned the iron ore mines, the iron ore vessels, glass works, steel mill, etc., all the components were made on site and were fed to the final assembly area.  After World War II, Eiji Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, came to the U.S. specifically to see The Rouge.  He based Toyota City on the River Rouge Plant.

The Fifth Panel – The State the Art – The Volkswagen Assembly Plant in Dresden, the car as an immaculate conception.

The last video showcases a state of the art final assembly plant – a far cry from the hectic pace of the 1919 plant.  With a dedicated transportation system, the plant is an integration of museum showpiece and working factory.  But all the other parts are assembled elsewhere, as reliable transportation now replaces the geographic proximity that was contained in the River Rouge facility.