The best cars and auto innovations of 2021

The automotive industry came into 2021 trying to beat out some extremely tough odds, not least of which being a choked supply chain. It may seem surprising, then, just how truly revolutionary the year ended up. If you’re a fan of pickup trucks, 2021 was a banner year, with Ford bringing its super-popular F-150 into the post-combustion era, and Rivian finally delivering on its lofty promises of a versatile battery-powered truck. We even got a few pleasant surprises, such as the charming Hyundai Santa Cruz, which packs the soul of a pickup into a transformed crossover. Overall, it was a pretty good year for people who like to lug stuff around.

Looking for the complete list of 100 winners? Check it out here.

Grand Award Winner: A landmark electric pickup

R1T by Rivian

After years of development, Rivian’s super-flexible electric pickup is real. Rivian

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Rivian, the Amazon-backed electric automotive startup, finally launched its long-awaited R1T electric pickup. In doing so, it beat (or at least matched) veterans like Ford and General Motors to the punch. The R1T is Rivian’s “adventure vehicle,” meaning that while it can do pretty much anything that a gasoline-powered pickup can, the company doesn’t promise the highest towing capacity or best overall bed volume. Instead, it’s more of a lifestyle truck—one capable of off-roading, overlanding, and just general outdoorsy activities, but in an EV with a roughly 400-mile range.

Rivian offers an array of add-ons that are especially handy for such adventuring. An optional three-person tent accessory enables camping on the go, and a slide-out Camp Kitchen stovetop fuels eat-what-you-catch fishing trips. And all that stuff neatly stows away in the R1T’s gear tunnel—a hollow just behind the cab—to avoid taking up precious bed space. Even with all of those features, it’s still a totally capable pickup truck. Each wheel is powered by an independent hub-mounted electric motor that together deliver a total of 800 horsepower and 900 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough oomph for the all-electric pickup to sprint from 0 to 60 in just three seconds. Yes, really.

A sports sedan that stays glued to the ground

Cadillac CT-4 Blackwing

CT4-V Blackwing by Cadillac

Advanced aerodynamics help keep this Cadillac grounded. Cadillac

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Featuring a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 engine, the CT4-V Blackwing puts out an incredible 472-horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque—more than enough from a sedan that can hop from 0 to 60 in less than four seconds. In order to achieve those speeds, the Blackwing employs a customized spoiler at the back, as well as air-guiding fins and a molded wing under its front, all of which keep the car pressed into the pavement so that just the right amount as air rushes over it at speed. 

An unexpected marriage of a crossover and a pickup

Santa Cruz by Hyundai

It’s part crossover, part pickup truck. Hyundai

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Seemingly out of left field, Hyundai launched its all-new Santa Cruz, a compact pickup meant for urban-dwellers who need a bit more utility.

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Taiwan Leads Innovations in Automotive Aftermarket

Despite COVID-19, the United States automotive aftermarket market is skyrocketing and is expected to exceed US $448 billion by 2025, according to Research and Markets. Rising trends – such as increased demand for electric vehicles, the emergence of advanced car accessories and the proliferation of used car sales platforms – have set up the US automotive market for significant growth.

The US has become the largest market for Taiwan’s automotive parts, accounting for more than 40% of the country’s exports. Main exports include car lights, tires, and other items such as suspension and transmission systems.

Due in part to a smaller domestic market, Taiwan’s manufacturers rely on exports and have stepped up research and development. As a result, Taiwan is well-suited to adapt to changing industry trends. One focus is environmentally-friendly auto parts, such as LED headlights and other new energy sources. These developments support not only the demand for EVs, but also support consumers in the used car market looking to upgrade older models.

Taiwan Excellence – the symbol of the most innovative Taiwanese products – will showcase the latest in advanced automotive systems and components at its “Lights, Cameras, Electronics & Cockpits – Hot Innovations from Taiwan for Automotive Market” webinar on October 27, 2021 at 2:00 PM EDT. This event offers buyers a first look at some of the country’s cutting-edge products designed to dramatically improve performance, safety, and comfort for drivers around the world.

The webinar, slated to broadcast on Taiwan Excellence’s YouTube channel, spotlights advancements from 10 trailblazing Taiwan Excellence award winners unveiling next-generation automotive products: CUB ELECPARTS, MiTAC Digital Technology, EverFocus, Mobile Drive, Noodoe, Chu Hung Oil Seal, Hua-Jie, Uni Auto Parts, Lucidity, and DEPO Auto Parts.

Taiwan’s Automotive Aftermarket Innovators


Founded in 1979, CUB first made its name by manufacturing electrical switches and has since grown into a global automotive leader in electrical parts. Its innovative millimeter radar Blind Spot Detection System and integrated tire pressure sensors are leading the way to make the road safer for all vehicles.

2. MiTAC Digital Technology

MiTAC Digital Technology embraces next-generation A-IoT to create advanced “smart” dashcams that help users navigate life – and the road – with increased peace of mind and performance. The company is unveiling its newest dashcams made for everyone from trucking fleet managers to everyday commuters.

3. EverFocus Electronics Corp

A leading provider of smart surveillance and smart transportation solutions, EverFocus aims to jumpstart smart transportation with a robust range of turnkey solutions on view, including industrial vehicle PCs integrated with the latest AI to monitor driver fatigue, component status, GPS tracking, and more.

4. Mobile Drive

Mobile Drive’s next-generation smart cockpit solution is poised to fundamentally change the driving experience, combining best-in-class infotainment with AI, deep learning and more to create a seamless technology solution and cutting-edge user experience. Mobile Drive is a joint venture between Taiwan’s Foxconn Group and car giant Stellantis.

5. Noodoe Corporation


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