September 2008 is a milestone month for U.S. automakers: General Motors and the Ford Model T both turn 100 years old. We wish they had more to celebrate, but in their honor, here's a look at the business of cars.
In 1908, a gallon of gas cost around 18 cents. Adjusted for inflation, that's about $3.90.
Ford produced more than 15,000,000 of the Model T, which averaged 21 miles per gallon.
GM has been the largest automaker in the world by production for 77 consecutive years, though analysts expect it to be surpassed by Toyota in the near future.
Toyota produces more than 1,500,000 cars per year in America and imports a million more. Last year it accounted for one of every five vehicles coming into the U.S.
Foreign automakers now produce about 55% of the cars sold in the U.S.
GM lost $38.7 billion in 2007. That's a sum larger than the individual GDPs of Luxembourg, Uruguay and 120 other countries. Toyota made more than $16 billion in the same year.
For model year 2008, the car with the best fuel economy is the Toyota Prius (48 mpg). The worst: Lamborghini's Murciélago (8 mpg). The average fuel economy of all new cars in 2007 was 26.7 mpg.
The U.S. automobile industry employed 1.1 million people in 2006, the latest year for which full data are available. About 5 times more people worked in related industries such as parts manufacture.