9 past mistakes offer lessons for today’s hot new automakers

In 2021, there are easily two dozen electric vehicle start-ups whose founders dream of becoming the next Tesla. Wanting to be the next big thing is a story as old as the automobile business, given that more than 2,000 American automakers have come and gone, and all of those founders held the same dream. Many found some initial success only for it to all go wrong in the end.

As glamorous as the automotive industry seems, the chances of sustained success for new manufacturers remains slim. So while many failed companies have since slipped into obscurity, their stories may have some use to today’s neophyte manufacturers.

Selling reliability isn’t a panacea

Engine failure was common in the early days of motoring; both driver and passengers could routinely find themselves stranded miles from home. Most automakers responded by trying to improve the quality of their engines. But not Howard Carter.

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