Transportation Science

If Henry Ford didn't invent the auto assembly line, why does he get credit?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. The first automakers put engines into what were basically modified horse coaches. That's why companies that make cars by hand are still sometimes called coach builders. In those early days, skilled craftspeople were involved in each step of the car's production, and buyers could get exactly what they wanted. As time went on, the coach builders realized they could work more quickly if they standardized designs and parts. They started to use machines and molds to produce parts workers used to build cars. At the turn of the 20th century, Ransom Eli Olds took that process a few steps further and invented an assembly line to produce cars. The reason Henry Ford tends to get the credit for inventing the auto assembly line is he made substantial improvements to Olds's system. In Ford's assembly line, workers were assigned individual stations where they would complete single tasks. The cars moved along the assembly line as workers performed their tasks on each car that went by. This allowed hundreds of cars to be built simultaneously, and it took just 93 minutes to build the Model T. Because the Ford system was more efficient, the company's autos were more affordable.

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