DETROIT –Corp. vehicles win both the 2007 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards at the North American International Auto Show here today, an early-year boost for GM that appears to signal new product-development strategies are working.
GM’s sweep marks only the second time in the 14-year history of the competition that one auto maker has taken both awards.Motor Co. Ltd. won last year with its all-new ’06 Civic and Ridgeline midsize pickup.
The Saturn Aura, an all-new midsize sedan based on a structure borrowed from GM’s Adam Opel AG European subsidiary, wins North American Car of the Year honors. The Aura emerges over theFit subcompact and Camry, the two other finalists vying for the NACOTY award.
GM’s crucial new Chevrolet Silverado pickup wins North American Truck of the Year award, beatingMotor Co.’s Edge cross/utility vehicle and Motor Corp.’s CX-7.
The Silverado is built on GM’s all-new GMT900 architecture. The platform’s rollout in numerous pickup and large SUV iterations is a linchpin in GM’s plan to stem its ongoing loss of market share in North America.
Beating two strong Japanese-brand finalists is particularly sweet for the new Aura sedan. The car not only is charged with going head-to-head with Japanese competitors that have won the hearts and wallets of U.S. consumers, but Saturn also needs to reinforce its reputation after earlier attempts to compete in the midsize segment have met with little success.
The Silverado’s win buttresses GM’s longstanding strength in the pickup market at a time when the traditionally stable segment shows signs of vulnerability, rocked by continuing concern about fuel prices and shifting consumer tastes.
The NATOTY win also carries GM into a year when prime rivalMotor Corp. soon will launch its all-new Tundra competitor.
The Aura earned 205 of the final NACOTY votes, followed by the Fit with 176 and Camry with 89. The Silverado garnered 243 NATOTY votes, with finalists the CX-7 taking 135 votes andEdge winning 92 votes.
Eleven vehicles were in the running for the 2007 North American Car of the Year award and 15 vehicles vied for the North American Truck of the Year award.
The truck category also included the growing new breed of CUVs, which blend the attributes of cars and SUVs and typically are based on car-like platforms.
The awards were given by a panel of 49 fulltime automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada. The first awards were presented in 1993.