Every year when we turn the calendar to the next year, I think back to the biggest automotive stories of the year. It was a year of transition and struggles for the auto industry as a whole. Let’s just say there was never a shortage of things to talk about on the air. I present to you my picks for the top automotive stories of 2017, in no particular order:
Ford Fires Its CEO
In May, sort of out of left field, Ford CEO Mark Fields was let go. The timing seemed odd considering Ford had just had its most profitable quarterly earnings on record. Fields was also let go in the same month as Ford outsold General Motors for the first time since 2011. I was not a huge fan of Fields even after speaking with him for a good while, but this move had me scratching my head.
Ford Hires A New CEO
While still spinning from the Fields firing, I really got a headache when Bill Ford hired Jim Hackett as CEO. I remember hearing the news and thinking WHO? While the 62-year old Hackett had worked at Ford a couple of years heading up the Ford Mobility Division, his claim to fame was in the office furniture business and is credited with “rejuvenating” the University of Michigan football program. Now it makes sense, doesn’t it?
Auto Sales Sets A New Record
Although the sales were made in 2016, it wasn’t until January 4, 2017, we found out that the auto industry had set an all-time record by selling over 17,600,000 new vehicles. The #1 selling vehicle overall in America, as usual, was the Ford F-Series truck, and the #1 selling car for the 14th straight year was the Toyota Camry. We do not have the 2017 December results as I write this, but the industry has lagged behind 2016 all year. Only twice so far has a month in 2017 been greater than the same month in 2016. No question, 2017 will not be a new record, but it will be in the top 3 years in history.
Hurricanes Wreak Havoc In Texas And Florida
Harvey and Irma are two names that will go down in history for many reasons, but one is the effect it had on the auto industry. Houston and South Texas were harder hit than Florida. Many Houston dealerships lost all their inventory, and an estimated 450,000 consumer’s cars had to be replaced. While I can’t speak for Florida, the Houston dealers stepped up and did what they had to do to help the victims. Auto manufacturers poured on additional rebates for those who lost cars, and they also diverted inventory headed to dealerships all over America to help meet demand. Although Harvey hit in August, by the end of October, most people who needed new cars had them.
The Electric Car Evolution
In 2017, it almost seemed like every automaker was vying for position. By that, I mean who could announce it was building more electric and hybrid vehicles in the future. So much so, I wrote an article titled “Stop the Electric Car Insanity”. Volvo announced every vehicle it sells in 2019 will have an electric motor. General Motors said it will have 20 new electric vehicles by 2023, Mercedes said it would have 20 new all-electrics by 2022, and the list goes on and on. All this in spite of the fact that today, electrics account for slightly more than 1% of the current market.
- I don’t like to pick on Tesla, but they really muffed the debut of the Model 3, badly missing projections of how many they could build in 2017. Although they claim 400,000 people put up deposits of $1000 each, less than 200 people actually took delivery in the 3rd quarter before CEO Elon Musk delayed the rest of the production to 2018.
- Uber had a rough year, too. The CEO resigned in early summer amid allegations of sexual harassment and sexism within the company. Then in November, we learned 57 million people had their information breached and Uber paid the hacker $100,000 not to share the breached info. Call me stupid, but doesn’t that open the door for more hackers?
- For you speed freaks, in the Car Pro Newsletter, we brought you many stories about the 840-horse Dodge Demon, which is being delivered now. Also, we covered extensively the 2019 Corvette ZR1, the 755-horse beast that is the fastest Corvette ever built from the plant in Bowling Green. You can get it in a convertible, too!
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