Pandemic, EVs, digital retailing and Tesla among top stories of 2020

A month into 2020, Ford Motor Co. teased the new Mustang Mach-E with a video of exuberant millennials devouring chicken wings and cocktail shrimp directly out of its front trunk, in the space where an engine otherwise would have been. At the time, who would have guessed that the most unrealistic part of the scenario would be people from multiple households socializing indoors?

The coronavirus pandemic put the kibosh on partying with frunk shrimp and shut down North American auto production for two months. Despite the chaos, the Mach-E and a number of other electric vehicle launches still managed to happen. And automakers that initially scrambled to conserve cash to weather the crisis have deepened their commitment to EVs, even as consumers’ eagerness to buy and chill seafood in them remains uncertain.

The shrimp industry took another hit from the cancellation of every major auto show since March. But dealers, after some difficult months navigating the digital revolution that was suddenly thrust upon them, have plenty of reasons for socially distanced, well-ventilated celebrations after sales rebounded much quicker than feared and profits soared.

Those are some of the stories chosen by the Automotive News staff as the biggest of 2020. It was a year most would rather not relive — once was more than enough, thank you very much — but if Carlos Ghosn can contort himself into an instrument case, we can make the effort to uphold a 68-year tradition. Choosing No. 1 was easy. The tough part was remembering nine other things that happened since the devil-may-care days of enjoying underhood hors d’oeuvres.