2000s Decade Recap - Auto

At the turn of the new millennium, American cars were getting bigger and bigger as GM, Ford and Chrysler were concerned with producing profitable SUVs. Meanwhile, Japanese, Chinese and European automakers were going smaller and smaller. Hybrids and electric cars also gained credibility. Once gas prices hit four dollars per gallon, consumers were on the small car bandwagon whether they liked it or not. This was the straw that broke the Big Three; by the end of the decade all three were in trouble. In this video, WatchMojo.com reviews these and more automotive milestones from the first decade of the new millennium.

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2000s Decade Recap - Auto

What Kind of Decade was it?

Well, thanks to the environment and gas shortages, cars got smaller, and it almost became a taboo to drive ostentatious gas guzzlers.

Yeah, that’s the kind of decade that it was in Auto.

In the year 2000, Ford picked up the Land Rover brand from BMW. Chrysler started out the decade teamed up with Daimler-Benz to form DaimlerChrysler.

The first decade of the millennium was also when auto navigation systems gained popularity.

It also marked the beginning of a resurgence of the MINI Cooper brand, now owned by BMW, with production beginning in 2001.

By 2003, a second model in the Hummer line-up was introduced, to be followed by yet another two years later. The American love-affair with the SUV was in full swing. Even sedans were getting bigger, with the Honda Accord and Civic both growing, as well as the Toyota Camry.

2003 was the year Ferrari unleashed the ultimate sports car, the Enzo. Practically a Formula-1 car, at the time it was the fastest factory spec Ferrari ever built.

2003 was also the 50th anniversary of the Chevrolet Corvette, and the 100th anniversary of the Ford Motor Company.

In 2004, BMW got into the compact car market with the 1-series, to keep up with European and Asian carmakers whose models were going smaller and smaller.

Starting in 2005, and lasting three years, Bugatti began limited production on the Veyron, which offered a staggering 1001 horsepower.

2005 was also the year hybrids exploded on the market.

In 2007, Daimler sold Chrysler for $7.4 billion, finally unloading the majority of their stakes in the already sinking ship.

2007 was also the year the Chevrolet Volt concept was made public. This electric plug-in hybrid will only make it to market as a 2011 model, but since its reveal it has garnered much public interest and praise.

The summer of 2008 hit, and gas hit four bucks a gallon. Suddenly consumers were running to the automakers demanding smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Ford also started dumping brands in 2008. That was the year they sold Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata Motors.

Cue the Prius to swoop in and take the market by storm. The Toyota Prius wasn’t the first hybrid, but it’s been the most definitive. Introduced worldwide in 2001, the Prius has steadily been gaining popularity in the US market, and was one winner of the rising gas prices.

Another environmentally-minded car brought to market at this point was the SmartCar. Ah the SmartCar. You either love it or you hate it. 2008 saw this car finally make it to US markets, though they had been popular in Europe for the previous decade.

The “Big Three,” known as General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, had not been offering consumers the fuel-efficient cars they had come to want.

By the end of 2008, GM and Chrysler were bailed out by the American government. In February 2009, they requested a second government bailout.

Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in May, after announcing an alliance with Italian-automaker Fiat. GM also filed for bankruptcy in 2009, after which they announced plans to sell off the Hummer, Saab and Saturn brands. They also announced they would phase out the Pontiac brand by the end of 2010.

2009 marked a special milestone for Toyota: it was the year they sold their one millionth hybrid in the US market. Coincidentally, it was also a milestone year for Ford hybrids: they produced their one hundred thousandth.

The first decade of the millennium may go down in history as a time of reinvention in the auto industry; a time when interests shifted from huge gas guzzling luxury vehicles, to more eco-minded fuel-efficient cars.

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