Between 1980 and 2010, auto manufacturers made significant improvements and innovations to their vehicle assembly lines to reduce the amount of time and labor it takes to manufacture a vehicle. In general, the major automakers average about 30 labor hours for each vehicle thanks to these manufacturing efficiencies.


According to IndustryWeek, in the 1980s, General Motors averaged about 40 labor hours per vehicle at a Massachusetts manufacturing plant. However, Toyota Motor Corp. has pioneered so-called “lean manufacturing practices” aimed at eliminating manufacturing processes — such as extra inventory or unnecessary transportation costs — that don’t add value for the customer. This has forced other automakers to make their manufacturing systems more efficient.