(For coverage of the Detroit auto show, see SHOW <GO>.)
Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Hyundai Motor Co.’s Elantra was named North American Car of the Year and Jaguar Range Rover Plc’s Evoque won truck of the year, as the largest U.S. auto show began in Detroit.
The Elantra beat Ford Motor Co.’s Focus and Volkswagen AG’s Passat, the Automotive Press Association announced today at the North American International Auto Show. The Evoque won out over Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s X3 and Honda Motor Co.’s CR-V. Jaguar Land Rover is part of Tata Motors Ltd.
The finalists in both categories reflected automakers’ push toward fuel efficiency. Each car gets at least 30 miles per gallon and the trucks are smaller than past winners in the category, including General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Silverado and the Honda Ridgeline pickup.
The awards kick off Detroit’s annual show where organizers expect carmakers to introduce almost 40 new production vehicles, including Chrysler Group LLC’s Dodge Dart and GM’s Buick Encore. Chrysler is majority owned by Fiat SpA.
Award winners have a mixed record of success.
Last year, GM’s electric-gasoline hybrid Volt won car of the year. U.S. dealers sold 7,671 Volts in 2011, missing GM’s target of 10,000, after a federal investigation of three fires that occurred after Volt crash tests.
GM plans to expand Volt production to 60,000 this year, with 45,000 planned for the U.S. GM also said Jan. 5 it will improve the Volt’s vehicle structure and battery-coolant system to better protect against fires after crashes.
The Ford Explorer won truck of the year last year. Ford sold 135,704 of the SUV in 2011, ending the year with a 37 percent sales gain in December, as U.S. dealers sold 13,872.
Ford won both awards in 2010 with the Fusion hybrid sedan and Transit Connect commercial van. It was the third time in 17 years one automaker won both awards. Domestic automakers have on the car award ten times among the 18 times it has been awarded and have received the truck award on 12 occasions.
--With assistance from Craig Trudell in Detroit. Editors: Bill Koenig, John Lear
To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Clothier in Detroit at firstname.lastname@example.org
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