Ford Motor Co. could be the company to beat in an otherwise hotly competitive automotive race. The Detroit maker landed three of the six eagerly coveted spots as the finalists for 2015 North American Car and Truck/Utility were announced today.
But Ford will face some tough competition from Chevrolet, Hyundai and Volkswagen, the other brands to be named finalists.
The finalists were chosen by a panel of 57 jurors, all automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada. The same group will now select the winners, with the trophies set to be handed out next month at the North American International Auto Show.
The finalists for North American Truck and Utility Vehicle are:
- The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado;
- The 2015 Ford F-150; and
- The 2015 Lincoln MKC.
For North American Car of the Year;
- The 2015 Ford Mustang;
- The 2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan; and
- The 2015 Volkswagen Golf “family.”
This will mark the 22nd year for the annual NACTOY awards. Over the decades, Detroit brands have won truck-of-the-year honors 14 times, European makers three times, and Japanese brands four times.
On the car side, domestic makers have won on the car side a dozen times. Japanese automakers have won three times, Europeans four times, and Korean carmakers twice.
In fact, the original Hyundai Genesis Sedan was a previous winner, a victory seen as a major validation for the Korean carmaker’s push up-market from its traditional base in the econocar segment. The choice of the Genesis was one of several surprises among this year’s selection of finalists.
In fact “We’re a little surprised,” acknowledged Hyundai spokesman Phil Floriday. “But we put a lot into this new Genesis and it’s nice to see that recognized.”
The other two finalists on the car side were largely expected. The latest-generation Mustang has been widely praised and already has won a number of awards.
“Nonetheless, this is a great way to kick off the New Year,” said Ford spokesman Said Deep.
Mustang missed out on one widely followed honor, the annual Motor Trend Car of the Year trophy going to rival Volkswagen. And, in an unusual move, NACTOY jurors echoed their counterparts at MT, picking the entire Golf “family,” which includes a range of gas, battery, diesel and performance models, as one of the finalists.
“The competition is certainly tight this year,” said VW spokeswoman Jeaninne Ginivan. “Just being nominated as a family is exciting.”
Ford also missed out on the Motor Trend truck award, which went to the new Chevrolet Colorado. The two will be squaring off again as NACTOY judges make their final choice for Truck of the Year.
(Chevy Colorado nabs Motor Trend Truck of the Year honor. For more, Click Here.)
Just being considered is a major coup for the new truck, said Chevy spokesman Terry Rhadigan. The maker abandoned the midsize pickup segment several years ago – as did crosstown rivals Ford and Chrysler. But it decided to come back with the new Colorado, and a sibling truck, the GMC Canyon.
“It was a bold step back into a forgotten segment,” said Rhadigan, noting that consumer demand has been “very strong” since the Colorado’s launch.
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Ford has also been struggling to meet demand for its new F-150, but is still hungry for the NACTOY trophy which would add validation to its risky decision to migrate from a traditional steel body to one made almost entirely out of lightweight aluminum.
“The award would be nice,” added spokesman Deep, “though what we’ve really set our sights on is maintaining the (full-size pickup segment) leadership we’ve held for 37 years straight.”
The other big surprise was the choice of the Lincoln MKC as the third Truck/Utility finalist. Ford’s luxury brand has gotten little love in recent years, and recently retired Ford CEO Alan Mulally came close to killing off the marque at one point. He ultimately agreed to launch four critical new products, including the MKC, Lincoln’s first compact crossover.
(To see how the UAW defeated its foes in the Battle of Chattanooga, Click Here.)
“Surprised? I am very honored,” said spokesman Stephane Cesaro. “For Lincoln, it’s a significant recognition of all the work that has been done to reinvent the brand.”
The North American Car and Truck/Utility finalists were announced during a meeting of the Detroit Automotive Press Association.