The motorcar changed the modern world. While German inventors inaugurated the automotive era in the late 1880s, industrial production was scaled up first in France, followed shortly by the United Kingdom and the United States. Before World War II, the German automotive industry remained small, despite its central role in pioneering the technology. While around 3.8 million cars left U.S. plants in 1928, German manufacturers produced only 108,143 automobiles. The bulk of these vehicles were sold domestically, and as another indication of low German production, American companies built nearly a quarter of the German total in assembly plants they set up across Germany.