Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

The global car industry

Year level: 9-10

Students explore interdependence and globalisation through examining the car manufacturing industry. They develop an awareness of the role of political forces and economic development and its effect on living standards and the environment. They classify the positive and negative effects of globalisation, identify the perspectives of different groups and use data to support their own point of view.

Henry Ford introduced the assembly line that allowed for mass production leading to cars becoming more affordable.

Henry Ford introduced the assembly line. This led to mass-production, which in turn led to cars becoming more affordable. © Car Culture/Corbis

Interdependence and globalisation, Social justice and human rights, Sustainable futures

Australian Curriculum links

Learning area


Year 9

The technological innovations that led to the Industrial Revolution, and other conditions that influenced the industrialisation of Britain (the agricultural revolution, access to raw materials, wealthy middle class, cheap labour, transport system, and expanding empire) and of Australia (ACDSEH017)

The short and long-term impacts of the Industrial Revolution, including global changes in landscapes, transport and communication (ACDSEH082)

Year 10

The waves of post-World War II migration to Australia, including the influence of significant world events (ACDSEH144)

The impact of changing government policies on Australia's migration patterns, including abolition of the White Australia Policy, 'Populate or Perish' (ACDSEH145)

The contribution of migration to Australia's changing identity as a nation and to its international relationships (ACDSEH147)


Year 9

The way transportation and information and communication technologies are used to connect people to services, information and people in other places (ACHGK066)

Year 10

The application of environmental economic and social criteria in evaluating management responses to the change (ACHGK075)

General capabilities

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Information and communication technology (ICT) capability
  • Critical and creative thinking

Cross-curriculum priorities

  • Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia
  • Sustainability 

Activity 1: Our cars

Students collect data about car ownership to understand the changing nature of transport since the invention of the car.


a database of the brand, model and ages of cars driven by the class members' families.

Create a graph to represent the information


Map the country of origin of the cars (this may require some further investigation) and note questions that arise.

Survey family members about car ownership. You could use the car ownership survey, to consider the types of cars and environmental, social and economic issues.

Collate the data and use it to discuss the following questions:

  • What factors influenced the particular cars purchased?
  • How have popular makes and types of cars changed over time?
  • How have consumer demands changed over time?
  • How has the country of origin of cars changed over time?
  • How do purchasing decisions link us to others around the world?
  • How might purchasing decisions affect the lives of workers in Australia and overseas?

Create a timeline with photographs and annotations to represent your findings.


Activity 2: Australian automotive industry

Students investigate how the car industry in Australia has changed and identify the sources of these changes.

Read the case study Globalisation and the car industry.

Create a timeline of the major events in the development of the car and the car manufacturing industry in Australia.

Research to add information to the timeline. This might include major car manufacturers, levels of production, worker safety, sources of components, car design, government policies, and global and personal economic health and social changes.

Present your timeline for comments and clarifying questions. Information could be added to a class timeline.

Discuss the following questions:

  • How have production methods changed over time?
  • How have the numbers of cars changed over time?
  • How have worker skills and conditions changed over time?
  • How have government policies changed over time?
  • How have consumer needs and wants changed over time?

Use your research to list the positive and negative aspects of the changes that have taken place in car manufacturing in Australia from one of the following viewpoints:

  • car manufacturer
  • worker in car industry
  • car purchaser
  • government economist
  • environmentalist.


View the following resources and create a historical fiction around someone buying a car in 1948:

Activity 3: How are decisions about globalisation made?

Students examine some key terms and concepts surrounding globalisation to develop an understanding of the global car industry.

Read the Introduction to the Global issue Globalisation and Globalisation: The car industry.

Discuss the following questions:

  • How and why has car manufacturing become a global industry?
  • What factors influence car manufacturers when selecting countries in which to locate their factories?
  • How might governments influence car manufacturers to locate an industry in their country?
  • What has globalisation meant for people working in car manufacturing in Australia?

Find examples for the positive and negative aspects of globalisation using the car industry in Australia. (You may use your timeline from Activity 2.)

Analyse the information and write a recommendation about the future of the car industry in Australia.

Activity 4: Automotive industry in Asia

Students will investigate the car manufacturing industry in a newly industrialised country and compare it with the industry in Australia.

Choose a country in Asia such as China, India, Thailand or Indonesia, and investigate the car manufacturing industry. Look at its operations and impact on the economy, environment and workers.

Discuss the following questions:

  • What are the costs and benefits of the car industry to the economy, environment, government, workers and consumers in developing countries?
  • How can we ensure a sustainable and just future for all global citizens?

Activity 5: How can industry work to improve our world?

Students draw their learning together and consider their responses to improving economies and caring for the environment in relation to car ownership.

Imagine you are responsible for overseeing business practice and economic, social and environmental health for the car manufacturing industry. In groups of three, each team member selects one of the following areas to research and devise standards for.

  • Environment – guidelines to improve fuel efficiency, reduce pollution and carbon emissions, and promote recycling and longevity of parts, etc
  • Workplace practices – safety guidelines, remuneration, training and redundancy
  • Community/social aspects – services for or investments in the local or global community

Write a vision for the future of the development of the car industry. Outline the benefits of this vision.

Present your recommendations and vision to the class.

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Henry Ford introduced the assembly line. This led to mass-production, which in turn led to cars becoming more affordable.
© Car Culture/Corbis
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Henry Ford introduced the assembly line. This led to mass-production, which in turn led to cars becoming more affordable. © Car Culture/Corbis