Automobiles in the Postwar Economy

August 21, 1945

Report Outline
Pace of Reconversion in Automobile Industry
Automobiles in the Prewar Economy
Automobiles and Postwar Prosperity
Special Focus

Pace of Reconversion in Automobile Industry

Pressure for Quick Mass Production of Automoblies

The Whirlwind close of World War II on August 14, 1945, suddenly freed American industry for full reconversion to peacetime production. National attention has since been centered on the automobile industry. A rapid resumption of civilian production there would give direct and indirect employment to millions of workers, would stimulate activity in a host of subordinate lines, and would measurably accelerate the transition of the whole economy from war to peace.

War production cutbacks of $2.5 billion monthly ($30 billion annual rate) were announced, Aug. 16, by the War Production Board. More than one-third of the total cancellations were of orders for fighting equipment turned out by the country's automotive plants. Employment in the automobile industry doubled and dollar value of its output tripled during the war. Thousands of its workers were laid off immediately after the surrender of Japan.

R. J. Thomas, president of the United Automobile Workers of America, has urged complete reconversion of the industry's present facilities to provide jobs for all workers on its payrolls when the war came to an end. “To scrap this equipment and consign these workers to unemployment,” he said, “would be unforgivable waste of the nation's most precious resources.” Thomas wants the industry to aim for a production rate after reconversion of ten million vehicles a year.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Feb. 17, 2017  Reducing Traffic Deaths
Jul. 25, 2014  Future of Cars
Feb. 06, 2009  Auto Industry's Future Updated
May 16, 2003  SUV Debate
Oct. 26, 2001  Auto Safety
Jan. 21, 2000  Auto Industry's Future
Jul. 25, 1997  Aggressive Driving
Oct. 16, 1992  U.S. Auto Industry
Apr. 27, 1990  Curbing Auto-Insurance Premiums
Jul. 14, 1989  Automakers Face Trouble Down the Road
Aug. 31, 1984  U.S. Auto Industry: Strategies for Survival
Feb. 23, 1979  Auto Research and Regulation
Apr. 28, 1978  Automotive Safety
May 10, 1974  Auto Industry in Flux
Apr. 18, 1973  Auto Emission Controls
Jan. 13, 1971  Auto Insurance Reform
Jul. 27, 1966  Fortunes of Auto Industry
Jun. 04, 1965  Automobile Safety
Jul. 10, 1964  Automobile Insurance and Traffic Safety
Nov. 19, 1958  Small Cars
Apr. 17, 1957  Better Driving
Jul. 01, 1954  Competition in Automobiles
Mar. 23, 1954  Automobile Liability Insurance
Dec. 24, 1952  Highway Accidents: Causes and Remedies
Aug. 21, 1945  Automobiles in the Postwar Economy
Sep. 02, 1938  The Market for Automobiles
Oct. 26, 1932  Outlook for the Automobile Industry
Dec. 10, 1929  Condition of the Automobile Industry
Jan. 30, 1928  Automobile Fatalities and Compulsory Insurance
Dec. 10, 1927  The Status of the Automobile Trade
Motor Vehicle Industry