When I was a member of the Senate Energy Committee in the 1970s I attached an amendment onto a piece of legislation that would have required the automobile manufacturers to make new cars that delivered a minimum of 26 miles to the gallon. That was in the 1970s when we all thought that mileage level would be a great victory. Nowadays, Toyota doesn’t make a car, I don’t believe, that delivers less than that. But back then, 26 miles to the gallon was revolutionary, even radical. So the Big Three came in and lobbied against it and defeated it. And they steadily moved into making and selling real he-man cars and trucks, such as the Hummers, the big pickups and the SUVs that more resemble a battleship than a car. At the same time, in Europe, taxes levied on gasoline made it so high that if one bought an American gas-guzzler, he would be thought of as crazy. So the Europeans made smaller cars that ate much less gas, and the Japanese began to move into the American market, selling high gas mileage cars to those of us who felt guilt at driving a four-wheeled monster.
The Europeans and Japanese also built high speed rail transportation that moved people so efficiently that cars became sort of redundant for longer trips.
Although, some would argue persuasively that the auto industry is dying as fossil fuels become more scarce and the cost of extraction becomes more expensive.