2020 year in review

Illustration by Ryan OlbryshCar and Driver

From the January 2021 concern of Car and Driver.

If, like us, you will have bother remembering the previous twelve months, allow us to refresh your reminiscence: You probably awakened on January 1, 2020, after an evening of revelry (keep in mind revelry?) to study that former Nissan CEO after which prisoner of Japan Carlos Ghosn had escaped home arrest by hiding in a really massive field and hitching a journey on a personal jet to Lebanon. You additionally could have thought on the time, “Well, this needs to be the craziest factor that’ll occur this 12 months.” How mistaken you had been.

Within per week of Ghosn’s daring escape, Mercedes unveiled an electrical idea car primarily based on the 2009 science-fiction film Avatar, a movie a few mining colony trying to wipe out an indigenous species and its tradition. But earlier than that settled into our consciousness, we heard rumblings that GM was bringing again the Hummer as an electrical car. The firm finally unveiled it in October, deftly making the transition to battery energy whereas nonetheless capturing the bizarre excesses of America with a car that is extra prone to plow by a tree than hug it. A Watts to Freedom mode—as shut as GM entrepreneurs will get to typing “WTF”—launches the electrical Hummer to 60 mph in a claimed 3.0 seconds.

Ford took a second (and an image) to share that the frunk of its upcoming electrical Mustang Mach-E could be an excellent place to put out a shrimp cocktail unfold on a mattress of ice whereas tailgating. Try doing that in your Shelby GT500, knuckle draggers! That was in February, which meant it was probably the final time many people considered hanging out with mates round a vat of shellfish earlier than COVID-19 began shuttering factories in Asia. The pandemic unfold throughout the globe and shut down total economies and borders and took a heavy toll on human lives. Auto gross sales briefly tanked after which bounced again with shocking power and velocity, whilst tens of millions of Americans traded their commutes for working from their couches.

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Oil costs fell. Then fell once more. They finally dropped under zero {dollars}. For a number of days, oil was price lower than nugatory. Meanwhile, in response to the coronavirus, almost each automaker grew to become a medical-equipment supplier (or at the least tried) as factories switched from producing autos to creating ventilators and masks. Elon Musk did his half by declaring Tesla a vital enterprise and retaining its ­Fremont, California, manufacturing facility working till authorities stepped in. Product launches and growth applications had been pushed again, however we’re conscious of just one vehicular casualty of the pandemic: Lincoln had introduced in January it could be partnering with EV startup Rivian for an upcoming car. By April, it had walked again these plans, leaving us with whiplash. We had simply printed a narrative on the electrical Lincoln in our 25 Cars Worth Waiting For concern. Guess it is 24 vehicles price ready for, then.

If you lived within the state of Georgia in May, you’ll have observed your roads bought a ­little bit extra hectic when the state allowed almost 20,000 children to get their driver’s licenses with out taking a street take a look at. No much less horrifying, a parade of imbeciles with extra time and money than sense and compassion took benefit of shelter-in-place orders and almost empty roads to chase new Cannonball Run information.

Speaking of getting more cash than sense, EV startup Nikola went public, raised a ton of money, then entered right into a cope with GM, whereby the Detroit automaker will construct its hydrogen powertrains and electrical pickup in alternate for fairness. Almost instantly after the settlement made headlines, Nikola’s CEO and founder resigned amid allegations that the corporate misled buyers. The inventory tanked. It seems the deal hadn’t been finalized but, however as of press time, GM remains to be on the desk however now solely provide gas cells to the startup as a substitute of serving to it construct the Badger, which so far as the EV world is worried, is extinct.

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Because there wasn’t sufficient turmoil within the U.S. auto market already, in August, Ford pulled a C-suite switcheroo, changing its high Jim—CEO Jim Hackett—with one other—Jim Farley, the famous car-guy exec and cousin of deceased comic Chris Farley. Hackett had solely been within the high spot for a little bit over three years. He had changed Mark Fields, who helmed the Blue Oval for lower than three years. If Farley could make it to the four-year mark, his story might be as triumphant as Tommy Boy.

The weirdness hit near residence, too. Many of us have turn into tremendous into vans and RVs as a result of all of us wish to depart our homes and flying with strangers looks like a giant no-no. Forty-two years after this publication arrange store in Michigan, we have found new driving roads lower than an hour from the workplace. We’ve seen the insides of our co-workers’ homes, whilst we not often see our co-workers in particular person. It all makes a disgraced CEO’s determined escape to freedom appear totally strange.

2020 year in review

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