Throughout most of the twentieth century, the city of Detroit has been synonymous with American automobile manufacturing. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, that was not the case. Instead, Ohio innovators in Cleveland and elsewhere were at the forefront of this new form of transportation technology. Alexander Winton is credited with many of the industry's early advances. Winton called his earliest designs "horseless carriages," but soon they became known as automobiles instead. Winton and the other early car manufacturers used publicity from cross-country automobile trips and races to create interest in their products. Dayton resident Charles F. Kettering invented the electric starter, which revolutionized the early automotive industry. Some of the first automobile manufacturers were located in Ohio, such as the Winton Motor Car Company, White Motor Company, Peerless Motor Vehicle Company, Packard Motor Company, and the Baker Motor Vehicle Company. Some, like the Columbus Buggy Company, began their history as manufacturers of horse-drawn buggies and carriages and then made the transition to the new technology. Unfortunately, most of these companies only lasted for a short time. They were on the forefront of innovation at first, but soon other manufacturers surpassed their advances. Some of these companies became part of General Motors Corporation in the first few decades of the twentieth century.
Today, General Motors remains one of the largest manufacturers of automobiles in the world. Some of their production facilities are located in Ohio, making this firm one of the largest employers in the state. General Motors operated eight different manufacturing sites in Ohio in 2000, including Lordstown, which is located just west of Youngstown. Completed in the mid 1960s, Lordstown remains a major manufacturer of General Motors' cars and trucks. In 2000, the 26,610 Ohioans working for General Motors manufactured nearly 641,000 vehicles.