When the car industry imploded in 2009, no one quite knew what to expect out of 2010.
Would Chrysler and GM survive? Would Toyota or Honda become the new darlings of American car production? What would happen to gas prices and how would automakers respond? Perhaps most importantly, how might automakers help us text while driving more efficiently?
Of course, 2010 answered all those questions and we ended up with some pleasant surprises, some cool innovations and some miserable failures.
Let’s begin with a couple of failures:
Honda and Toyota
Oh boy. Who would have seen this coming? Toyota crumbled under the pressure of mass recalls and questions about its quality, causing customers to look elsewhere. The once mighty Honda pumped out products few were interested in buying (Crosstour and CR-Z). The big two Japanese companies could have taken big advantage of the U.S. bankruptcies but instead helped them recover by sending customers to Ford and GM dealers. Toyota’s troubles also helped lead to…
South Korea as the new Japan
Hyundai and Kia began life in the U.S. as laughable automotive afterthoughts. Today the Hyundai Sonata is everything the Honda Accord should be. Hyundais and Kias are now seen as affordable, efficient, reliable and, as of 2010, stylish alternatives to the American and Japanese offerings. But the American Big 3 aren’t going to sit idle…
Ford, GM and Chrysler come back from the brink
Ford survived the implosion without any government help, and now loves to tout its technological breakthroughs (some of which are too distracting to be in cars) and use of turbo-charged engines to combat the coming increase in gas prices. With the Italians in control at Chrysler, the smallest of the Big 3 is regaining some swagger and has a bright future. General Motors’ big victory of 2010 seems to be the release of the Volt, which is winning every Car of the Year award imaginable. I happen to think that’s the media’s over-reaction to an overpriced hybrid, but whatever.
If anything, 2010 showed that trying to predict the future of the automotive world is nearly impossible. I mean, what’s next, a Chinese company taking the U.S. market by storm? The Honda Crosstour becoming a sales sensation? Only 2011 has the answers…
Have a safe New Year’s Eve and very happy beginning to 2011!