Just as different changes in society caused the emergence of cars, the automobiles produced many other outcomes affecting politics, economy, and also structure of the United States. Charles Wilson, the director of General Motors in 1953, explained the effect of cars on the country’s politics when he stated that “what is good for America is good for GM” and vise versa (Hawley). In the 1950s, the United Auto Workers was the strongest union in the country (Hawley). The political effect of the automobiles showed through the strength it had on both the American workers and leaders. In 1953, GM had 45% of the market (Halbertan 129). Consequently in 1956, it had 51% of the market of cars (129). The increasing authority of the single car company in the market offered a clear view of the economic dominance and influence of the automobile industry. In 1956, the Eisenhower administration enacted the Interstate Highway Act which offered 40,000 miles of roads built throughout the United States (Hawley). In addition, McDonald’s became the first chain drive-in restaurant in the country (Hawley). The passage of the Highway Act demonstrated the effect of cars on the structure of the country while the structure of the drive-through showed the country’s new style and way of life that depended on cars. The act showed a clear influence of the cars on the structure and design of the roads of transportation and their extent. Because of the emergence of cars as a major method of transportation, the different cars offered a change in the relations and styles of the American life.
So where did the two sexes fit into this new level of automobility? Did they want and need the same service from automobiles, or did they have separate aims and objectives? And for those families who only owned one car, who was the prime driver and why? Work locations were slower to relocate to the suburbs than were domestic residences in the 1950s and early 1960s. Males needed to travel to work. As they were the breadwinners in most suburban families, they either drove themselves to the office or the factory or were driven to and from the local train station to continue their commute to the city. When the former happened, women often became socially isolated and frustrated, because the demand for public transit was too low to encourage private enterprise to provide service to downtown or to local retail centers. Housewives who retained control of the car during the day or those who managed to persuade their husbands that their lives would be difficult, lonely, and miserable without personal transport or that in their new upward mobility they deserved their own vehicle, whether new or second-hand, gained independence as well as mobility. For both of these female suburbanites, the car became almost a second home.
Initially such women got behind the wheel to shop. Retail outlets might be grouped a mile or more away from their homes, but these were gradually shifted into more purpose-built shopping centers. Such off-street retail complexes were frequently dedicated to domestic, if not female-oriented, consumption, and they were planned as primarily female meccas because market analysts estimated that women did between 67 and 92% of family shopping and spent considerable time at the stores. Designed to facilitate car access and to offer a variety of services in a one-stop journey, shopping centers increased from 8 in 1945 to 3,840 by 1960. Frequently anchored by department stores, they accommodated a number of different shops and services, thereby drawing in consumers from both the neighborhood and the region. If supermarkets were not located in these shopping centers, they required a separate visit from the motorized suburban housewife who wanted to take the weekly supply of food home in one journey. Indeed the supermarket came of age in the decades of post-war affluence. In 1950 it accounted for 35% of American food sales; a decade later this percentage had doubled. Not only did the low prices appeal to consumers' sense of value, but the supermarket also fitted the new automobile-led middle-class way of life. Supermarkets responded to their growing popularity by becoming bigger and better, by carrying new branded products and more sizes of pre-packaged foods, and by having larger parking lots.