World War I and Cars
The first World War in 1914 was a very important point in human history. The fate of many nations across the globe was changed or influenced by this period in time, and from it came many important inventions and new technologies that we now take for granted.
Did you know that this was also a pivotal time for automobiles as well?
During war time, the need for automobiles rises tremendously, both for combat and non-combat use in the military. Most often people may assume that an army only requires tanks to fight their wars, but do not forget that there is also a strong need for transport and supply vehicles as well. Trucks, cars, motorcycles, are also in high demand in the rest of the military to help with logistics and other services, even more so during an actual war.
In World War I specifically, there are a few car companies that made great contributions, namely BMW, Renault, Ford, Rolls-Royce, and even Citroen. From the names of these now-luxurious brands, you can see that these car firms were from both sides of the war: American, British, French and German car companies.
The most obvious reason for their contribution to the war effort on either side is because of its expertise in building automobiles, but if you look a bit deeper you’ll realise that they also have the capacity for production. These companies owned and operated factories in their respective countries that could be repurposed away from car production for public sale and towards production to support the military.
With government support during war time, these companies gained a lot of experience and expertise in producing automobiles.
In the case of Rolls-Royce in particular, the first World War provided it with a unique opportunity to also be known as an engine manufacturer, producing engines to be used in aeroplanes that later flew in the second World War.
During the first World War, however, many of these companies were never fully-able to keep up with the demand for their motor vehicles. It would seem that the car business was very busy at this time.
Despite that, not everyone in the industry was happy about this. Remember: if car factories were busy producing vehicles for war use, that means that they were also reducing their output for non-military vehicles to be sold to the public. Car dealerships lost out greatly seeing as how they were not able to get supplies to sell to their customers, which resulted in a drop in their business.
Furthermore, car companies also faced issues in terms of resources. Facing such a large demand for automobiles meant having to secure a constant supply of raw materials to build them, most importantly steel. With other industries in the war effort demanding the same materials to build ships and airplanes, the car industry struggled to secure adequate supply of steel to produce cars.
All-in-all, the world changed dramatically during the events of World War I and many industries became more active as a result. The car industry is a perfect example of that.