Top 10 Automotive News Stories of 2014 Staff
by Staff

The automotive industry had another busy year in 2014. We’ve gathered together the ten most important and influential news stories of the year, all in one place.

Falling gas prices – While not specifically automotive, the fall of gas prices affects everyone in the industry. From manufacturers to families, gas prices touch every corner of the market and for the most part, 2014 came with great news. Gas is selling in many states for as little as $2 per gallon, prices that haven’t been seen since the mid-2000’s.

SEE ALSO: Gas Prices Continue to Fall

An ignition and start switch assembly. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)
GM Ignition Switch Recall – Since the very beginning of 2014, General Motors has been embattled by the Ignition Switch recall scandal. The American automaker announced a recall for 2.6 million small cars in January of this year, though it was later discovered that the company had known about the defect for at least a decade before acting to rectify it. At the time of publication, the official death toll as a result of the faulty ignition switches sits at 42. In the affected cars, the car key can turn from the “on” position, causing the car to suddenly lose propulsion, power steering and airbags.

SEE ALSO: GM Ignition Switch Death Toll Still Rising

Takata Airbag Recall – The automotive industry set a new record in 2014 for the number of recalled vehicles in a single year and vehicles equipped with airbags from Japanese supplier Takata played a big role in that. In the affected cars, pieces of metal shrapnel can be hurled at the occupants when the inflators explode with too much force, in some instances resulting in death. Worse still, Takata still hasn’t identified the root cause and a report from the New York Times alleges that company has tried to cover up findings of an internal test that proves that the airbags are defective. Honda, Mazda, Ford, BMW and more have recalled cars worldwide because of the issue.

SEE ALSO: Takata Still Doesn’t Know Root Cause of Airbag Issue

Diesel Takes Pickup Truck Market by Storm – While diesel engines have always been around in heavy duty trucks, 2014 marks the resurgence of an oil burner in a half-ton pickup truck. The year also brings the promise of more diesel pickups. Ram introduced the 2014 1500 EcoDiesel this year to much fanfare and not long after, Nissan announced that its redesigned 2015 Titan half-ton will be powered by a 5.0-liter Cummins V8 diesel. Also, General Motors is preparing to bring a small 2.8-liter diesel to market in its new midsize pickup twins, the GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Ram EcoDiesel Review

Government Mandates Backup Cameras – Backup cameras have been gaining mainstream adoption in new cars for years, but the government decided to make them mandatory this year. All new light vehicles must be fitted with a backup camera. As of May 2018, every new car on sale must have a backup camera that shows at least 10 feet by 20 feet, directly behind the vehicle. The rules are being phased in, with automakers required to equip 10 percent of their vehicles from May 1, 2016, to May 1, 2017 with a compliant backup camera. From there, the proportion of vehicles jumps to 40 percent for the following year and finally it reaches saturation on May 1, 2018.

SEE ALSO: U.S. Government Makes Rearview Camera Mandatory

Hydrogen Cars Get a Boost – Hydrogen car availability made some big advancements in 2014, with Toyoya releasing the Mirai and Hyundai the hydrogen-powered Tucson. The Mirai will initially go on sale in select states, but is targeting sales across the U.S. Honda showed a new concept version of its fuel-cell car this year as did Audi and Volkswagen. Commitments to build more hydrogen fueling infrastructure also came from the government and a handful of automakers this year.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Toyota Mirai Review

Redesigned Icons – Ford took a huge leap with the new 2015 F-150 by giving the truck a new aluminum body, while the company also made a splash with the Mustang, bringing it into the modern era with new independent rear suspension and a revised look.

Another American sports car icon got a refresh this year, the Chevy Corvette Z06, which now lays down 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque through either a seven-speed manual or an eight-speed auto box. From Mazda, the best-selling roadster of all time, the MX-5 Miata, has been given a full overhaul.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Ford Mustang Review

Lamborghini released the Huracan, which replaces the brand’s best-selling car of all time. Over at Honda, the Civic Type R Concept has been making the rounds, showing us what to expect when it’s all-new iconic performance coupe hits the market. Finally, Toyota gave the Camry and Corolla models a refresh in 2014, bringing new styling and revised driving dynamics to both cars.

The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco — the most fuel-efficient Malibu ever — is loaded up for distribution to dealers across the United States at the General Motors Fairfax Assembly Plant Wednesday, January 18, 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas. The Malibu features eAssist technology that provides and estimated 25 mpg city and 37 mpg highway fuel…
U.S. Automotive Sales Surge – Just about every automaker had a stellar 2014 when it comes to sales. It looks like the industry is on track to deliver 16.4 million vehicles in 2014, the best total since 2006. Trucks, SUVs and crossovers in particular did very well in 2014, helped by falling fuel prices and and improved employment numbers. And these sales aren’t the result of heavy discounts; in fact, average transaction prices pushed above the $30,000 mark in 2014.

SEE ALSO: 2015 US Auto Sales Expected to Break Records

Hellcats – Pushing the horsepower wars to even new heights, Chrysler released the ridiculous 707-hp Hellcat engine to the world in 2014. Both the Challenger and Charger use the Hellcat enginer, which is a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that makes 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. Giving a bold answer to the question, “how much is too much?,” the Hellcat twins both made plenty of headlines in 2014.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Review

Alfa Romeo finally makes it to America – The iconic Italian brand finally made it back to the North America after years of promising in 2014. For now, the hardcore 4C sports car is the sole Alfa on sale in the States, but eventually the brand plans to introduce crossovers and sedans. Choosing to bring the 4C first will no doubt put Alfa Romeo back on the North American radar, as the hardcore sports car offers a raw and exciting driving experience that few other cars can match. Staff Staff

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