5 Auto Headlines that Made You Laugh, Gasp or Shudder in 2015
Every year brings forth some kind of buzz, trend, criticism or blunder in the auto industry, and 2015 has been no different. In fact, it’s safe to say that this year was particularly eventful. Some car headlines no doubt grabbed your attention, and there are many others that were of burning importance that may have also gone under the radar. So we’re here to reflect on the top auto news of the year. You will no doubt agree that a lot of stuff went down.
1. VW emission scandal
Volkswagen’s diesel “mishap” spewed into the public eye towards the end of summer, and rapidly mushroomed into the most chatted-about topic in the car world. Although the story has receded into the background, you’ll still see the occasional report about the scandal. As you know, the story involves the VW’s cheating on emissions testing for their diesel cars. The company was found guilty of using a “defeat device” that allowed them to pass emissions tests even though their engines produced 10 – 40 times the pollutants than what’s acceptable. For the most part, the scandal has fizzled out of importance. But the auto giant still has to deal with a massive recall, staggering costs and a reputation that will take years to clean up.
2. Takata airbag defects
It just seems like Takata can’t catch a break. The Japanese auto part maker made headlines again this year due to defects in their products. Once again, there was a widespread recall of airbags among a slew of car makes and models, marking a new chapter in Takata’s ongoing glitch saga that began in 2013. As it stands, 34 million vehicles worldwide have been affected, and the number can still climb. The issue comes from a malfunctioning inflator and propellent device. If a vehicle equipped with these components crash, the metal fragments may shoot out towards the driver and passengers. There have been 139 reports of injuries among all affected vehicles and unfortunately, two people have died. What makes the recall such a disgraceful story, is the revelation that Takata switched to a cheaper airbag propellent, which was more prone to damage in the first place.
3. Ford self-driving test in fake town
2015’s auto news wasn’t all gloom and blues. Among the more positive news stories was Ford’s first self-driving car test in a fake Michigan city. Sure, there are a ton of car brands that have tested autonomous cars in real-world settings, but ironically, no one has done so in a fake urban setting. The reason it was such a big deal, comes from the fact that a fake city allows automakers to test driverless cars to a greater extent. They can improve the algorithms and sensors in their cars by pulling off repeated moves they just can’t do in a real city. Additionally, testing the vehicles away in a “pretend” setting keeps the general public safe since the average person isn’t walking around in a what would seem like a film or television set.
4. Return of the Acura NSX
2015 has been a comeback year for more than just Star Wars. The Acura NSX, the widely adored mid-engine car, returns after a 10 year hiatus. Technically, 2016 will be the comeback year for the NSX since that’s when Acura will launch the latest edition, but we can call it a 2015 headline seeing the reboot received so much attention over the last few months. The NSX was scheduled to be reproduced in 2010, but the weakened economy (from the 2008 – 2009 recession) led to its cancellation. But after spending many years out of commission, the NSX is back on the scene as a twin-turbocharged monster that’s also a mid-transverse hybrid. Just as a note, however, it comes with a $150,000 price tag.
5. The Aztec’s ugliness wins affections from young drivers
The Pontiac Aztec has been named as one of the ugliest cars ever made. Of course, how beautiful or unappealing a car looks is subjective, but the Aztec’s boxy design certainly doesn’t do much to capture the eye. However, there’s a crowd of buyers who have embraced it – young people. In fact, young adults age 18 to 34 are buying the Aztec in surprisingly high numbers. Some may say it comes from the willingness of millennials to stand out, but research may point to pop culture as the reason for the Aztec’s resurrection.
The critically-acclaimed T.V. drama, Breaking Bad, could be the reason for this trend since the protagonist, Walter White, drove around in an Aztec. For those of you haven’t watch the show, Walter White (a.k.a “Walt” for short) has turned into an influential albeit dark icon. So the lesson for car makers and advertisers is clear – get your car on one of the hottest primetime dramas currently on the air.
Peering into 2016
As the year comes to close, we can only imagine what auto news 2016 will bring. It will hopefully be a lot more positive than the scandals and recalls we’ve seen over the year. After all, there are so many amazing developments when it comes to things like driverless cars, fully electric vehicles, and second chances for cars that were deemed too unsightly to catch on. Whatever looms on the horizon, we’re sure it will be exciting or at the very least, attention grabbing. So all we can say to you, is to stay tuned…