You Didn’t Build That

Chevrolet Volt vehicles on the assembly line at the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in 2011. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)
No, really, Senator Rubio . . .

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE D etroit’s success was a very complicated story. Its failure is a simpler one.

How did Detroit become the “Motor City” at the center of the U.S. automotive business? It wasn’t obvious that it would be: At the end of the 19th century, more than 100 automobile companies were organized in the United States, most of them in New England and Ohio. But Michigan won out because it had a hugely important advantage in one natural resource: smart people.

Ask a half-dozen car guys why Detroit beat out the rest, and you’ll get a half-dozen answers: Maybe because Henry Ford and Ransom Olds


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