The automotive industry may be a cyclical business, but few could have foreseen the mind-blowing events of 2018.
A titan of the industry suddenly died. Another is locked in a Japanese prison. The U.S. president is threatening the largest U.S. automaker for cutting thousands of jobs. And then there is Tesla CEO Elon Musk, apparently smoking pot on a podcast and tussling with federal securities regulators.
Interest rates are rising and sales are falling after years of record and near-record numbers. Automakers have been relying on profits from more expensive trucks and SUVs to keep finances healthy as they battle rising material costs and try to position themselves for a rapidly changing transportation industry.
"The CEO issues are huge," said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst at Cox Automotive. Questions swirl around Ford CEO Jim Hackett's ability to steer the legendary carmaker through choppy waters, she said. The death of Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne sent shock waves through the industry as has the arrest of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance head Carlos Ghosn. Tesla's Musk has always been controversial, but his talk about taking Tesla private and his battle with federal regulators surprised even jaded onlookers.
Here's a look back at some of the auto industry's biggest stories in 2018.