Editor's note: The Chicago auto show took place in February 2020. An earlier version of this story misstated the status of the show just prior to the pandemic.
Nothing could be crazier than 2020, we all innocently thought as Kia towed the big "2021" numerals into an empty Times Square.
Back then, chips were just tasty but unhealthy snacks. Cars and trucks lost value when they left the dealership lot. Nobody could recite the Greek alphabet. Elon Musk was only the world's third-richest person.
In the decades that passed this year, Tesla became a trillion-dollar company. Public dealership groups bought up stores like early-pandemic toilet paper. We kind of got used to saying "Stellantis."
And then there's the global microchip shortage, which the Automotive News staff chose as the top story of 2021 in a landslide. Remember when dealerships used to have more than six new cars on the acres of asphalt surrounding their showroom? Remember when car shoppers scoffed that only suckers pay sticker? Remember incentives?
What fresh insanity will 2022 bring? Buckle up, turn on your heated seats (non-General Motors customers only) and get ready to find out. In the meantime, here are the biggest stories of 2021, as voted on by the Automotive News staff for a 69th consecutive year.