July 25, 2024

The Reasons Behind the Recent Surge in People Leaving Major Car Channels on YouTube

Screenshot: AutoTea

If you frequently watch automotive YouTube content, you may have observed a series of videos titled “why we’re leaving” uploaded by individuals associated with some of the largest automotive YouTube channels. Notable channels like Donut, Hoonigan, and CarThrottle have seen creators announce their departures. This trend raises questions about why these individuals, who hold coveted positions that many aspire to, have chosen to walk away.

Insights from YouTuber AutoTea, a former employee of Donut Media, shed light on the situation. While he may not be a familiar face to viewers as he primarily worked behind the scenes, his extensive involvement in producing 136 videos between 2021 and 2024 provides valuable perspective on the inner workings of companies like Donut. According to AutoTea, the core issue driving these departures is not just related to monetary compensation, although the automotive industry is notorious for offering relatively low salaries. The primary culprit, as highlighted by AutoTea, is the influence of venture capital and private equity.

Upon acquiring major automotive YouTube channels, investors prioritize maximizing profits in an industry known for narrow profit margins. This often leads to the introduction of additional layers of management and cost-cutting measures to sustainably finance operations. Consequently, employees are faced with the daunting task of delivering more results with fewer resources, all while being denied the creative freedom they once enjoyed. The new management’s reluctance to take risks or invest in ambitious projects further compounds the challenges faced by content creators.

Furthermore, the shift in ownership often results in a devaluation of the individual contributors who played a pivotal role in building the channel’s success. Employees are treated as replaceable assets, with little recognition for their contributions in enhancing the channel’s profitability. This organizational dynamic, where executives prioritize the brand over the creative talent behind it, ultimately erodes the morale and motivation of content creators, leading many to reconsider their involvement in such environments.

To delve deeper into this issue, check out the video below by AutoTea:

Why Everyone is Quitting BIG Automotive YouTube Channels (Donut, Hoonigan, CarThrottle)


Q: Are there other factors contributing to the departure of automotive YouTubers?

A: Alongside financial considerations, the diminishing creative autonomy and lack of recognition for their efforts also play a significant role in prompting creators to leave.

Q: How can the automotive industry address this trend of creators leaving?

A: By fostering a supportive and empowering work environment that values the creative input of content creators, companies can mitigate the factors driving individuals to seek alternatives.


The exodus of talent from prominent automotive YouTube channels underscores the challenges faced by content creators in an industry increasingly influenced by financial interests and corporate ownership. As creators grapple with limited resources, decreased creative freedom, and a lack of recognition for their contributions, many find themselves questioning their continued involvement in environments where profits take precedence over creativity. Addressing these issues requires a reevaluation of the value placed on individual talent and the importance of fostering an environment that nurtures creativity and innovation.

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