2022 Review: Winners and Losers

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elon musk at the 2022 party

Getty Images/Taylor Hill

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They say genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. In the case of Scot Burner’s new Guinness World Record, we’d say it’s 99 percent inspiration. He earned a certificate for fastest mileage in reverse, averaging 48 mph hitting his Corvette C7 around the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park racetrack in Kentucky. We did something similar in 2011 with rental cars, which got four of our staff banned from Avis for life. Turns out loss prevention has no sense of humor. If Burner’s achievements inspire you to set records, find the Lincoln Town Car. As our decade-old tale can tell, it would have produced a terrifying 63 mph in reverse, 9 mph faster than the top speed the Burner saw. Hertz may still have some services.

Naming his MC20, Cielo may not look like the L for Maserati on the surface. After all, the roof is removable, and cielo is Italian for sky. But in 1999, Buick introduced its own Cielo, a very lame concept car based on the Regal sedan. The Goldleaf Chromaflair concept—a metallic orange—has no roof and has a look that might have been inspired by a plastic grocery bag. We’ll just break down here: This kind of design and thinking led to things like the Pontiac Aztek. Cielo Maserati is beautiful, but when we hear Cielo, all we can see is that Buick.

In moves straight from the minds of preteen gamers, Ross Chastain went full-shot in the final round of the 2022 Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway. What is “full send”, you ask? In this case it was a last-ditch effort to secure a spot in Championship 4—a convoluted NASCAR playoff event—by pinning the throttle to the floor and the car right side to the wall in the final two laps of the race. Chastain made five places with the move, three more than he needed. We half hope NASCAR will respond with the new rules, a move that will put him in the loser category here. But Chastain told the media, “I have no idea or plan to do it again because it’s not fun.” Definitely cool to watch.

Prospects for EV startup Faraday Future have dimmed. In February, its chairman resigned over the potential to mislead the company’s investors regarding preorders. Then the Securities and Exchange Commission summoned members of Faraday’s management. This comes less than a year after Faraday went public through a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company), which avoided scrutiny of the IPO process. The share price was $14.82 a day after Faraday joined the NASDAQ in July 2021 and has since shrunk to less than a dollar.

Porsche is now offering a roof top tent for, get this, the 911. Seemingly designed for those who find the road noise of the 305 series Pirellis not loud enough, hard shell tents are available from Porsche dealers. We bet a lot of this $7029 pop-top ($1029 for the hood, $6000 to have “Porsche” printed on it) will end up in the Safari-style Dakar 911 model that Porsche debuted at the LA auto show. The only disappointment is that Porsche says the vehicle speed should be limited to 81 mph with the awning on. We never knew Porsche wasn’t serious, so we heeded the warning.

Did someone say, “EV startups need more bad news”? In October, Trevor Milton, founder and former CEO of Nikola, was convicted of fraud in federal court (he plans to appeal). Nikola, if you remember, was going to sell an electric pickup called the Badger, but the company changed gears to focus entirely on electric semi trucks. Despite having to recall them due to minor issues, the company delivered 93 trucks in 2022.

The cargo ship caught fire and sank in the Atlantic in March. All 22 crew members survived, but 3,965 Volkswagen Group vehicles were lost, including 85 cars from Lamborghini and 189 from Bentleys. The media has been speculating that the electric car fire was the embers that broke out at Felicity Ace, but we’re here to quash that idea, as the cause is unknown. We may never know for sure what happened as the ship is now nearly two miles (0.5 leagues) underwater. There’s an estimated $401 million worth of cars under there, so maybe some rich eccentric will stage a rescue operation. If that happens, watch out for the zero mile Aventador LP 780-4 Ultimae advertised on Autotrader for a track.

In response to the war with Ukraine, Nissan sold its Russian operations to Russia for money. That amounts to a $687 million Toto flush for the Japanese company. It is a big loss but an honorable decision. In April, Nissan had the option to buy back operations — production in St. Petersburg and business operations in Moscow—but that seems unlikely.

Formula 1, one of the world’s most popular sports series, is finally gaining a significant audience in US households with the help of the soap opera-like reality show Drive to Survive on Netflix. We shouldn’t be surprised that a bit of drama was injected into F1, considering that a company called Liberty Media acquired Formula One Group—the company that manages F1—for $8 billion in 2017. Between Ted Lasso’s success and Ryan Reynolds’ purchase of Welsh football club, wish soccer was the next sport to shoot up in the US, but maybe not.

Yup, you can win and lose in the same year. While F1 won the hearts of US fans, it also lost integrity. Exhibit A: The 2021 Drivers’ Championship is decided on the last lap of the final race. The rules are bent so that the race does not end behind the safety car. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen benefited, winning races and championships, with Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton feeling like they were the ones buckling. Fast forward to October 2022 and show B: A review of the previous year’s budget determined that Red Bull had spent too much, further fracturing Mercedes. Those in the sport are divided about the resulting fines and penalties, with Mercedes landing on the too lenient side. Some would say rules are rules — after all, F1 has 329 pages. It’s a lot of drama. Remember, media companies own F1.

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