DETROIT, - Forty-nine automotive journalists have selected the Chevrolet Volt, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Leaf as the three finalists for the 2011 North American Car of the Year.
The finalists for the 2011 North American Truck of the Year are the Dodge Durango, the Ford Explorer and the Jeep Grand Cherokee
The finalists were revealed today at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit. The winners will be announced on January 10 at an 8 a.m. news conference at the North American International Auto Show.
The awards are unique in the United States because -- instead of being given by a single media outlet -- they are awarded by a coalition of automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and web sites.
To be eligible a vehicle must be all new or "substantially changed."
The correct name is "North American Car of the Year" and "North American Truck of the Year," not "Car of the Year" or "Truck of the Year."
Earlier this month jurors sent their ballots to Michelle Collins, the Michigan Audit Partner in Charge at Deloitte & Touche LLP. Today Ms. Collins handed over envelopes containing the names of the finalists (listed in alphabetical order) to Mark Phelan, the auto critic for The Detroit Free Press, who made the announcement.
This begins a second round of voting on the three car and three truck finalists. Those ballots also go to Ms. Collins who will be the only one who knows the winners until she hands over the envelopes on January 10.
Here are some observations:
If the Chevrolet Volt wins it will be the fourth time General Motors has won the North American Car of the Year. Most recently, the Chevrolet Malibu was the 2008 North American Car of the Year.
The Hyundai Sonata includes three models, the standard sedan, the sporty version and the hybrid. If the Sonata wins it will be the second win for Hyundai. Its Genesis was the 2009 North American Car of the Year.
If the Sonata wins it will be the fifth time a hybrid has been honored. Most recently the Ford Fusion Hybrid was the 2010 North American Car of the Year.
If the Nissan Leaf wins it will be the second time a Nissan has been a North American Car of the Year. The first time was the Altima in 2002.
If the Dodge Durango wins it will be the second time a Dodge has been a North American Truck of the Year and the third time a vehicle from Chrysler has won. The Grand Cherokee won in 1999 and the Dodge Ram in 1994.
If the Ford Explorer wins it will be the seventh time a Ford has been the "North American Truck of the
Year." Ford has dominated the truck category. Last year the Ford Transit Connect was the winner.
If the Jeep Grand Cherokee wins it will be the third time a vehicle from Chrysler has been a North American Truck of the Year. The Grand Cherokee won in 1999 and the Dodge Ram won in 1994.
This is the 18th year of the awards, which are funded exclusively by the jurors. During that time:
* Domestic automakers have won North American Car of the Year nine times. European automakers have won four times, Japanese automakers have won three times. A Korean automaker has won once.
* Domestic automakers have won North American Truck of the Year 11 times. Japanese automakers have won four times. European automakers have won twice.
Last year the North American Car of the Year was the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the North American Truck of the Year was the Ford Transit Connect.
The awards are administered by a five-person organizing committee. This year its members are Karl Brauer (Edmunds.com); Tony Swan (Car and Driver); Lindsay Brooke (Automotive Engineering International); Mark Phelan (The Detroit Free Press) and Christopher Jensen (Freelance).
More information including the names of the jurors is available at www.northamericancaroftheyear.org.
Below are the vehicles on which the jurors voted.
2011 North American Car of the Year
North American Truck of the Year
Jeep Grand Cherokee