*While most of us are familiar with Elon Musk, the lead driver behind the all-electric luxury car company, known as Tesla, many of us would be hard-pressed to identify blacks in the automotive industry who also played key roles in blazing new trails over the past decade.
As the new year has turned the corner, JeffCars.com has identified the top black automotive trendsetters and pioneers, who were either given the keys (or keyfobs) or literally took the keys (or keyfobs) to make their mark in history, during the years of 2010 to 2019.
After successfully reviving the 2010 Ford Taurus and spending several years overseas, Lucas returned to the states with another bang in 2018, with the all-new Lincoln Navigator.
For close to two decades, Lincoln had been hanging on with the ailing and extremely dated Navigator, as the Cadillac Escalade literally dominated the segment. Lucas pulled out all of his creative juices, adding his artistic magic to reimagine the bold and fresh-looking SUV, making it a hit for the brand. In fact, many critics believes Lucas’ Navigator out-Cadillac the Escalade.
As a result of consumers shift from cars to SUVs, crossovers and trucks, over the past decade, the Navigator has become the new standard of luxury for all SUVs. In order to reclaim its title, General Motors is currently retooling their moneymaker, the Escalade, which is expected to make its world premiere in February. The average Navigator these days are flying off the lots with a transaction price that exceeds $90,000.
Lucas is one of two high ranking black car designers for the automaker. His hot-selling SUV is helping Ford Motor Company to stash away the much-needed cash so that they can invest in the electric and self-driving car movement. Lucas’ design has also aided in reestablishing the Lincoln division as a luxury brand once again. The 2018 Navigator was named as one of the 15 most important cars of the decade by the automotive enthusiasts magazine Motor Trend.
In 2010, Hyundai’s Andre Hudson broke out of the box, putting the Korean company, who was known for its value pricing and uneventful designs on the map. With its fluidic design theme, Hudson’s hot-selling Sonata became a game-changing vehicle for the brand, as well as the automotive industry. Hudson, the Korean brand’s first black car designer, created a stylish coupe-like, four-door sedan, that accounted for 40 percent of the brand’s sales, during its peak. The success of the Sonata, as well as its pint-sized sibling, the Elantra, which was also designed by Hudson, generated so much cash for the company, they were able to launch Genesis, an all-new luxury brand, to compete with the likes of Lexus and BMW.
With the introduction of Genesis, Hudson’s gift earned him an opportunity to serve as the lead designer of the brand’s Bentley-like flagship vehicle, the G90, before expanding his wings elsewhere.
Today, the creative genius joins an elite group, as one of a handful of blacks in the world, to head an automotive design studio. In his current position, Hudson is proudly leading his design team to create electrifying, no pun intended, all-electric vehicles for a start-up company.
Coincidentally, since Hudson’s departure from the Korean automaker, many automotive critics believe Hyundai has made missteps, with the Sonata in terms of its exterior styling. Still today a number of design studios have copied the styling cues from Hudson’s sexy looking, award-winning 2011 Sonata. Like with Lucas’ Navigator, its no surprise the 2011 Sonata was just named one of the top 15 most important cars of last decade by Motor Trend magazine.
The National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD) have fought for decades, making sure that black folks and others of color got their fair share of new car dealerships, being that this group accounts for approximately 8 percent of new vehicle sales and represents 12 percent of the U.S. population. Despite the stats, black dealers own less than 3 percent of today’s new car dealerships.
Thomas Moorehead, who has been a new car dealer since 1985, is a member of what has become this dwindling tight-knit group of black dealers. While a number of black dealers faded away, during the Great Recession, Morehead managed to weather the rough roads, holding on to his automotive enterprise, while keeping his eyes on the prize. In fact, in 2014, Thomas Moorehead cracked the automotive dealership doors wide open. He joined an elite ultra-luxury club, becoming Rolls Royce’s first and only black dealer. And in 2016, the barrier breaker made history again, driving into the super exotic sports car market, as the first and only black dealer to acquire Lamborghini and McLaren franchises.
Unlike with today’s Cadillacs, Mercedes-Benzs and Jaguars, with Moorehead’s latest three high-end franchises, you won’t find the invoice cost, the cost the dealer paid, on of any of his models online. You’ve got to have some serious loot to afford to purchase and/or lease one of his high-end brands. Successful businessmen like Moorehead have found one of the surest means to create generational wealth is to have access to own a new car dealership.
To continue reading the entire list of this past decade’s automotive trailblazers, click here.
Jeff Fortson hosts Auto Trends with JeffCars.com, a weekly radio program, which airs on SiriusXM and in select radio markets throughout the U. S.
Fortson’s program is the only syndicated urban radio show airing throughout the U.S. and Canada (as well as the only weekly automotive program airing on SiriusXM). Fortson’s show format includes one-on-one engaging conversation with many of today’s multicultural automotive influencers and pioneers. Unlike the typical car program, Fortson’s conversations can extend beyond the traditional car talk.
For airtimes, visit his website, JeffCars.com.