Vehicles in the 2000's
Technology, safety and the environment are the major themes of the automobile industry in the 2000's. The decade began with a continued interest in big vehicles with big power - along with a luxurious touch. The Sports Utility Vehicles of the 2000's were bigger, more powerful and included far more features than previous models, off-roading and 4-wheeling was increasingly popular and with technology making engines more efficient it seemed like the best of both worlds.
While many Americans were looking for the biggest most powerful cars on the market others were looking for vehicles that would let them explore, but with the reliability and gas mileage of a sedan. This, brought the growth of the crossover with cars like the Ford Sport Trac which traded a smaller truck bed and large cab, or the Pontiac Aztek which had a wagon like look but could transform into a camper for the adventure seeker on the go.
By the end of the decade, however, one type of vehicle ruled the road compact cars and the Hybrid. As the markets crashed and the cost of a gallon of gas rose from $0.98 a gallon in 2002 to over $4.00 a gallon in 2009 the need for gas efficient vehicles were more important than ever. By the end of the 2000's the Prius became not just the inspiration for a reemerging electric vehicle trend it became a symbol of responsible citizenship with the "Prius Effect" where Americans bought hybrid and electric vehicles as a symbol of their commitment to green technologies and combating climate change.
Task 1: Watch the Introductory Video to this Unit (5 minutes)
Task 2: Review the provided images and attached links for vehicles during the 2000's (15 minutes)
Task 3: Watch this Video on Role of Concept Cars in the 2000's (5 minutes)
Task 4: Concept Cars of the Decade (25 minutes)
While concept cars of years past were simply an exercise in creativity in the 2000’s many became the inspiration for future production vehicle designs.
Go to GOOGLE CLASSROOM and select a slide from the shared Google Slides document for this assignment
Add Your Name to the Top
Explore concept car designs in the 2000’s
Research how these cars vary from traditional production models
Select ONE (1) concept car to Research
Research Your Selection
Who Made the Car
What Year was it Produced
What Features made it a Concept Car
What future trends were the vehicle/manufacturer predicting with there design
How do these features represent American culture at the time
Create your One (1) Slide Sharing Your Findings
A Video (If Available)
Controversial Cars of the 2000's
Sport Utility Vehicles
In the early 2000s, when gas was cheap and car-based crossovers were just beginning to gain popularity with consumers, manufacturers had the widest range of off-roady SUVs we’ll likely ever see. Everyone from Mitsubishi to Mercury had a 4-wheel drive vehicle armed with decent ground clearance, skid plates and a 2-speed transfer case ready to tackle the great outdoors. Certainly automakers such as Hummer and Land Rover had lineups of serious 4-wheelers, but they didn’t tend to offer unique versions that extended what their base trucks could do when the going got extra rough. (https://www.autotrader.com/car-news/6-coolest-factory-built-road-suvs-2000s-281474979972451 )
2001 Ford Explorer
2005 Toyota Rav4
2000 GMC Yukon
During the first few years of the new millennium, car companies catered to consumers who expected powerful vehicles. The sport utility vehicle (SUV) was king, and it was easy for consumers to obtain credit to purchase one of these expensive automobiles. However, in 2008, a major economic downturn prompted banks to tighten financing requirements. Fewer people could afford to buy an expensive vehicle. At the same time, fuel became more expensive. In the summer of 2008, record fuel prices caused many consumers to sell their large vehicles and buy smaller, more efficient cars. Hybrids and gas-sipping compacts now ruled the road. As the recession lifted, this focus on fuel efficiency and practicality remained. (https://cars.lovetoknow.com/History_of_the_Automobile_Industry )
2007 Chevy Cobalt
2008 Ford Focus
2008 Smart Car
Cross Overs / Truck Utility Vehicles
Crossovers are essentially beefed-up station wagons and hatchbacks, sometimes designed to look like an SUV, but that drive and handle more like a car, and aren’t really designed for true off-road capabilities. Most of these vehicles are also built on car platforms. For example, the popular Toyota RAV4 is built on the same platform as the Camry and Corolla sedans. This contrasts with true SUVs which have more robust off-road capabilities and are frequently built on pickup truck frames. Another big difference between the two is fuel economy. These vehicles became increasingly sought after as gas prices increased and engines became more reliable and powerful. (https://advocacy.consumerreports.org/research/the-rise-of-the-crossover-the-segment-thats-really-driving-the-auto-industrys-sales/ )
2001 Pontiac Aztek
2002 Ford Sport Trac
2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser
In 1999, the Honda Insight became the first mass-production HEV released in the United States. The two-door, two-seat Insight may have been first, but it was the Toyota Prius sedan, released in the United States in 2000, that gave hybrid technology the foothold it was looking for. In the years since its United States introduction, the Prius has become synonymous with the term "hybrid." It is the most popular HEV ever produced, and auto manufacturers around the world have used its technology as a basis for countless other vehicles.
In this era of ever-increasing environmental awareness, the Prius may be in for some stiff competition. Honda released the second-generation Insight, and Chevrolet introduced of the Volt. As hybrid technology continues to improve, it will continue developing an even stronger foothold in the world's auto market. Whatever the future holds, one thing is certain, auto manufacturers will keep developing and building hybrids, just as they have all along. (https://www.carsdirect.com/green-cars/a-brief-history-of-hybrid-cars )
The Toyota Prius
The mid-2000s Toyota Prius was a weird-looking box of metal: Viewed from the front, it sloped upward with swollen curves. From the back, it was chunky and pug-nosed.
But from a marketing perspective, the Prius’s visual oddness was a selling point. While other car companies designed their hybrid vehicles to blend in with the inoffensive smoothness of the typical midsize car, Toyota sculpted the Prius to stand out. Its aesthetic distinctiveness is one reason for the car’s success in the past decade: In 2010, nearly half of all hybrids sold in the U.S. were Prius'.
Now the Prius’s curves are proving useful to another group: environmental researchers. People who study consumer behavior have long suspected that buyers are willing to pay more for environmentally-friendly products because those products are status symbols—but it’s been difficult to say just how much more willing. To these researchers, the Prius’s release is a natural experiment: The Prius is functionally the same as other hybrids, so any disproportionate success it sees might be attributable to its aesthetic differences.
That’s the basis of a study published in the journal Ecological Economics that estimates that the status-symbol premium attached to the Prius, in comparison to other hybrid cars, is about $600, or five percent of its value.
Environmentally-friendly behaviors typically go unseen; there's no public glory in shortened showers or diligent recycling. But when people can use their behavior to broadcast their own goodness, their incentives shift. The people who buy Prius' and solar panels still probably care about the environment—it’s just that researchers have found that a portion of their motivation might come from a place of self-promotion, much like community service does good and fits on a résumé. (https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/02/the-prius-as-an-oddly-shaped-status-symbol/385263/ )