Auto Show: Ford Explorer and Chevy Volt Win Top Awards

Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas, stands next to the 2011 Ford Explorer and holds the award for the North American Truck of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in DetroitA panel of auto industry journalists named the 2011 Chevy Volt "North American Car of the Year," and the 2011 Ford Explorer [pictured] "North American Truck of the Year."

There are numerous "Car of the Year" and "Truck of the Year" awards, the most prominent and well-known are probably the ones given out by Motor Trend magazine.But every January, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, awards are given for The North American Car of the Year and North American Truck of the Year that should have more credibility with the public than awards from a single enthusiast magazine.

The awards are voted on by 49 or 50 automotive journalists spread across North America from several news organizations. Their awards, and the organization, is actually funded by the jurors themselves who pay annual dues to be included.

Why are these awards more credible? There is always a suspicion, and potential conflict of interest, that can be charged when a single magazine or news organization grants an award. The organization is left open to the charge, deserved or not, that an auto company can "buy" itself an award by spending a lot on advertising.

The jury system does not lend itself to such charges. Moreover, the organization of journalists does not charge the winning companies a fee to advertise the award, as other organizations do. J.D. Power and Associates, for example, charges companies to advertise its rankings. And magazines often charge licensing fees to quote from its reviews or ballyhoo its awards.

The Volt was cited by many journalists for its technology, which allows the car to be driven up to 40 miles on an electric charge before a gas engine kicks in to drive the battery power, thus eliminating anxiety consumers express about running out of electric power. The Explorer was cited for Ford's redesign, which made the SUV lighter and much more fuel efficient, as well as for its interior and exterior design.
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