Chapter 5: A changing industry
As a result of the Ford–Budd system and the market created by Sloanist thinking, car manufacturing has become a major industry with a real impact on the economies of large and small car-making countries. For this reason, particularly after World War II, more and more did governments start to take a direct interest – and in some cases even ownership or part ownership – in the car industry. This period consists of five distinct phases: ● 1945–55: the first wave of nationalizations ● 1955–73: growing markets and regional development ● 1974–83: state aid to an industry in crisis ● 1984–95: privatization and restructuring ● 1995–: globalization and erosion of government influence. In the first wave, European governments in particular were faced with ruined economies as a result of war, which they wanted to revive as quickly as possible. Many saw the car industry as a key to this. Thus it was that in France the government nationalized Renault, turning it into a ‘Régie Nationale’, a company run directly by government. In Italy the government took a specialist producer of luxury sport cars, Alfa Romeo, and turned it into a nationalized producer of mass-market cars for the people, managed via the state holding company. This was done in part to provide a counterweight against the very powerful and privately owned Fiat group. We thus see the first signs here of an
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