There was a time in America when even small towns hummed around on electric trains and trollies. Around the end of World War I, urban railways accounted for 90 percent of trips taken in vehicles, and there was no reason to believe they were going anywhere. Urban railways meant that the average workaday citizen didn't have to invest time and money in learning to drive, paying for gas and maintaining a car. At the time, driving a car was considered a novelty. A fun thing to do on a Sunday that allowed the moderately wealthy to feel fancy without having to buy a boat. Plus, the railways were so lucrative that the local government didn't have to pay a dime to maintain them, since small businesses did the work for them. Everyone was a winner, except for a handful of very rich people who had overestimated the demand for automobiles back when they were known as horseless carriages.
"Most expensive motor car"? Definitely onto a winner there with the poor people.
In 1921, only 10 percent of Americans owned cars, and after losing $65 million in a year, General Motors had to face the fact that cars just weren't worth it for the other 90 percent. Today, the ascendance of the automotive industry is a foregone conclusion, but at the time it seemed more like a bunch of rich guys had forgotten that not everyone was rich. Imagine if the wealthiest people in your city invested all their money in limousines, under the assumption that everyone would stop taking cabs because why take a taxi? Limos only cost a couple hundred dollars extra!
This is where less successful men would have come to terms with the fact that they'd backed the wrong horse. Capitalism had spoken, and its answer was: "We'll take the clearly superior alternative that doesn't cost half a year's paycheck up front." Instead, General Motors decided to find a way to make cars worth it to the average citizen. After waiting for the laughter in the room to die down when someone suggested that they lower car prices, the car industry looked at the people who rode electric rails to work and decided to make them what's known in the mafia as "an offer they can't refuse."
"That's some real nice infrastructure you got there, America. Pity if something happened to it."