Now that the motoring world has announced the International COTY and TOTY contenders, the finalists for North American Car and Truck of the Year have been revealed. The six chosen chariots consist of some of the same nameplates, but whereas the international body tapped the Dodge Challenger, Ford Flex and Nissan GT-R for the car honors, the 50 N.A. automotive journalists have elected the Ford Flex, Hyundai Genesis and Volkswagen Jetta TDI as finalists for the 2009 NACOTY. So the Challenger makes the International list but not the North American one? Baffling. The Nissan GT-R didn't make the N.A. cut, but it could be argued that the Flex and Genesis are more important to their respective companies, and the Jetta, well, it's green and all. The Jetta TDI did appear on the separate Earth, Wind & Power list from the international committee.
On the Truck side we have the Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram making both lists, but the N.A. group selected another Earth, Wind & Power nominee, the Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTEC, instead of the internationally-nominated Subaru Forester. All of the contendors seem worthy of recognition, but we're sure you'll have your own suggestions, as do we. Both sets of winners will be announced January 11th at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The full press release with all of the eligible nominees is after the jump and we've assembled a gallery of the finalists below.
[Source: North American Car & Truck of the Year]
2009 NORTH AMERICAN CAR AND TRUCK OF THE YEAR
December 18, 2008 – Two European automakers, two domestics and for the first time a Korean automaker comprise the six finalists for the North American Car of the Year and the North American Truck of the Year awards, it was announced today.
Two of the six vehicles are new, clean diesels that can be sold in all 50 states. In 16 years this is the first time a diesel-powered vehicle has been a finalist.
A group of 50 automotive journalists voted the Ford Flex, Hyundai Genesis and Volkswagen Jetta TDI as finalists for the 2009 North American Car of the Year.
The Dodge Ram, Ford F-150 and Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTEC are finalists for the 2009 North American Truck of the Year.
The awards are unique in the United States because -- instead of being given by a single publication -- they are given by 50 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and web sites.
The awards are designed to recognize the most outstanding vehicles of the year based on factors that include innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.
To be eligible, vehicles must be "all-new" or "substantially changed" from the previous model. This year the jury considered more than 50 vehicles and finally settled on 14 cars and 11 trucks that deserved to be on the ballot.
Michelle Collins, Vice Chairman Automotive at Deloitte & Touche, was responsible for counting the ballots, which jurors sent directly to the accounting firm.
The finalists were announced today at a news conference during a luncheon held by the Detroit Economic Club and the North American International Auto Show.
Now the jurors begin a second round of voting. In this second round they will vote on the three car and three truck finalists. As with the first round of voting, those ballots go directly to Ms. Collins at Deloitte.
Ms. Collins will be the only person who knows the winners, which will be announced January 11th at the North American International Auto Show. Although the winners are disclosed at a news conference at the North American International Auto Show, the show does not give the awards.
Last year the North American Car of the Year was the Chevrolet Malibu and the North American Truck of the Year was the Mazda CX-9.
This is the 16th year of the awards, which are funded exclusively by the jurors. During that time:
- Hybrids have been honored four times.
- Domestic automakers have won North American Car of the Year eight times. Japanese automakers have won three times. European automakers have won four times.
- Domestic automakers have won North American Truck of the Year nine times. Japanese automakers have won four times. European automakers have won twice.
Here are the vehicles on which the jurors voted:
2009 North American Car of the Year nominees
BMW 1 Series
Volkswagen Jetta TDI
2009 North American Truck of the Year nominees
Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTEC