GM’s Cadillac ATS, Chrysler’s Ram 1500 Win Auto AwardsMark Clothier
General Motors Co.’s compact Cadillac ATS won the North American Car of the Year award while Chrysler Group LLC’s Ram 1500 won the truck prize, giving a sweep to recipients of 2009 U.S.-financed reorganizations.
The luxury sports sedan beat out the Ford Motor Co. Fusion and the revamped Honda Motor Co. Accord, both midsize sedans, the Automotive Press Association announced today at the North American International Auto Show. Last year, Hyundai Motor Co.’s Elantra compact sedan topped Ford’s Focus and Volkswagen AG’s Passat.
The Ram 1500, a large pickup that can get 25 miles (40 kilometers) per gallon on the highway, was named truck/utility of the year, at the Detroit auto show. The Ram won over Ford’s C-Max hybrid, which Ford categorizes as a car, and Mazda Motor Corp.’s CX-5 crossover sport-utility vehicle. Last year, the Range Rover Evoque, part of Tata Motors Ltd.’s Land Rover brand, won the honor. Chrysler is majority owned by Fiat SpA.
“The Ram shows that Fiat really understands that this is a really important vehicle to Chrysler,” Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst at Edmunds.com and one of 50 award voters, said in an interview. “Clearly if Chrysler were going to survive it had to redo the Ram.”
The finalists reflect automakers’ effort to increase fuel efficiency to help meet new federal standards. The truck/utility award was formerly known as the truck of the year award. The move reflected the increasing number of car-based crossover vehicles, which combine attributes of cars and trucks.
“Cadillac is striving to be a strong global brand and it needs to go against the likes of Mercedes and BMW and this is their first attempt to do that,” Krebs said.
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz have ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in U.S. luxury-vehicle sales the past two years.
Each car finalist get at least 32 mpg and the truck/utility finalists are small SUVs and a pickup with a V-6 engine. The U.S. wants automakers to double the average fuel economy of passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. to 54.5 mpg by 2025.
U.S.-based automakers have won the car award 11 times among the 20 times it has been awarded and have received the truck award on 13 occasions. GM’s Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and Ford’s Explorer SUV won the awards in 2011.
The predecessors of GM and Chrysler restructured in U.S.- financed bankruptcies in 2009.