Five Years of Change: It's a Wild Time in the Automotive Industry
A look back on five years at the helm of Automobile.
Earlier this year, as we started bolting together our annual look at what we believe to be the best new cars, trucks, and SUVs the automotive world has to offer, it hit me: five years.
Dang, has it really been that long? I'm not huge on anniversaries, and the Big 5 isn't exactly a momentous milestone in the grand scheme. But as I began to ruminate on my tenure at the helm of the USS Automobile, I was struck by how much things have changed, not just at our publication but for the industry as a whole.
Nowhere has the pace been more breakneck than in the electric-powered-vehicle space. Back in September 2014, Tesla was just starting to gain its footing thanks to its breakthrough, a car that gobsmacked me the first time I drove it. Here was an American startup, fronted by a charismatic and eccentric CEO named Elon Musk, that in a flash had flipped an entire industry on its roof.
Mainstream automakers that had been slow-pedaling the development of EVs for decades with what amounted to little more than low-volume experiments and quota fillers suddenly started tripping over electrical cords in a headlong rush to bring truly viable, series-production vehicles to market. Perusing our New and Future Cars feature, it's astonishing to see how many are on the roads now or will be shortly. We outlined several of them last year, and now we have an even clearer picture of what's to come.
The best part is that several look like they're going to be bonkers fun to drive, chief among them the Porsche Taycan. Although Porsche has been no stranger to electrification, with several plug-in-hybrid versions of its core models and the 918 supercar, the Taycan will be its first true electric-powered vehicle. We've anticipated this purebred Porsche EV sports car—and EV sports cars in general—for some time, and our first couple of experiences behind the wheel did not disappoint.
Even one of the world's most recognizable sports cars hasn't been immune to change. The eighth generation of a rolling American treasure—the Chevrolet Corvette—has arrived, with what's proven to be a somewhat polarizing twist. It's been an open secret for the better part of two years that the Corvette would switch to a mid-engine layout; now it has finally come into the light, and you can see it in all its glory here on our site, where we have a fiberglass boatload's worth of stories, video, and more detailing the new car and celebrating everything Corvette, including its convertible and race-car variants.
For many (other than maybe Ford and Chrysler fans), the Vette has come to symbolize American performance: front engine, rear drive, unbridled power. That the Corvette is changing so radically will be sacrilege to some, a revelation to others. Oh, and General Motors has reportedly trademarked the name E-Ray, so it's all but assured that it will be electrified in some way soon enough.
One thing the all-new Corvette won't come with too much of is automated driving technology, but that's another area that accelerates quicker every year. One of my missions since taking over as editor-in-chief has been to regularly bring you features that inform about what's happening in the world of automation. It's an area that has enormous implications for the future of the automobile and how we interact with it. Sure, we're enthusiasts, but I firmly believe it's important to understand how technology is transforming the driving experience and the face of transportation, for better or worse.
As many of you know, we've also made a number of major updates to how we bring you words and photos in the past five years, most notably relaunching the print magazine's layout. As always, we remain committed to delivering stories with impact and depth, having some fun, and taking some chances. Everything we've tried has been with you and with the brand's founding ethos in mind. We've also continued to make strides with our digital efforts, and we have even better things planned for our slice of the online space.
Although there have been plenty of challenges, it has been an honor and a privilege to be the steward of this brand and to lead an incredibly talented group of writers, editors, and designers, past and present. This is more than just a nine-to-five, and for the past five, it's been one heck of a ride. I hope you'll continue to sit shotgun with us as we navigate through the momentous changes to come.