1. Ransom Olds opened the first automobile factory in Detroit. During the first year of operations (1901), the company produced 425 cars. The 3-h.p., curved-dash Oldsmobile thus became the first real success among commercially sold U.S. automobiles. Ransom E. Olds became the first automobile manufacturer to gear up for genuine volume production. He introduced the curved-dash Olds priced at just $625 in an attempt to attract buyers. His plan worked for several years. Olds sold 425 the first year and 5,000 units by 1905, but as Henry Ford would ultimately discover with the Model T, mass production can set a dangerous trap. Changes in styling and consumer taste quickly stranded Olds with a huge investment in plant and equipment trying to sell the 'old-fashioned' curved-dash Olds.
  2. First appearance of 'license plates' on U.S. automobiles. New York State earns nearly $1,000 the first year.
  3. Approximately 7,000 automobiles are built in the U.S. this year.
  4. A steering wheel is now employed on most cars, instead of a tiller.
  5. The Electric Vehicle Company, holder of the Selden Patent, threatens legal action for infringement by unlicensed auto manufactures.
  6. New make Autocar develops a shaft-driven motor vehicle. Stearns goes into full production with a single-cylinder car.
  7. Roy Dikeman Chapin drives an Oldsmobile from Detroit to New York City in 7.5 days, averaging 14 miles per hour.
Sample Production Figures
Winton 700
Oldsmobile 425
White 193
Autocar 140
Knox 100
Packard 81