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2003 North American Concept Vehicle of the Year Award Winners Announced

ATLANTA, Ga., March 11 -- The second annual North American Concept Vehicle of the Year awards were announced today during a ceremony at the Atlanta International Auto Show. A jury of 35 automotive journalists from throughout North America selected the winners from 32 Concept Vehicles and six Production Preview Vehicles that made a North American debut during the 2003 Auto Show season.

Hosted by the South East Automotive Media Organization, the awards recognize those vehicles most likely to shape the future of the automobile industry.

New this year was the Production Preview category for those vehicles based on a model that has already been announced or planned for production. Notable among the strong competitors in this category was the Dodge Magnum SRT8, but when the final votes were counted,

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Ford Mustang GT Concept
the Ford Mustang GT galloped ahead with a clear lead. "The Ford Mustang is a great part of our heritage. Feedback from the public, automotive press and dealers told us we had to bring the Mustang back," said Ford President and COO Nick Scheele.

The Concept Car category presented the widest field of competitors in this year's competition with over 20 entrants. Among those that ran away from the pack were the Aston Martin Vantage, Infiniti Triant, and Mercury Messenger.

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Cadillac Sixteen Concept
The award in the Concept Car category went to the Cadillac Sixteen. According to juror Jim Scoutten, "the Sixteen is exactly what a concept should be - bigger than life in length, power, and appointments... This car is crowd stirring art."

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Chevrolet Cheyenne Concept
In the Truck & SUV category, the race was so close that as little as two votes would have given the top score to any of three out of the top four finalists. Emerging with a narrow lead over the Dodge Kahuna and the Toyota FJ Cruiser, the winner of the 2003 Concept Truck of the Year was the Chevrolet Cheyenne. Juror Michael Bettencourt said, "It has brains (the easily accessible bed) to go along with its underhood muscle and smooth looks. Who says style and pickups can't go hand in hand?"

The Specialty Concept category recognizes those vehicles outside the normal definition of car or truck, as well as those vehicles where the technology and not the package is the key story.

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Dodge Tommahawk
Although the Dodge Tomahawk motorcycle and Ford's ultra-recyclable Model U both attracted considerable attention, the future vision of General Motors' Hy-Wire finished with a clear lead as 2003 Specialty Concept Vehicle of the Year. "A new automotive architecture and maybe the first computer-age car," said juror Ashly Knapp. "Hold the pistons make mine electric!"

Taking top honors as the "2003 Most Significant Concept Vehicle of the Year," was the General Motors Hy-Wire.

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GM Hy-Wire Electric Hybrid Concept
Here again the competition between the segment winners was fierce and just a few votes could have changed the outcome in any direction. "Though the close competition made for some tough choices, it's evidence of the many truly great ideas and designs incorporated in all of the finalist vehicles," said jury director Tom Kelley.