North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards Presented at NAIAS
10 January 2000North American Car of the Year and North American Truck of the Year Awards Presented at North American International Auto Show 2000
DETROIT, Jan. 10 -- The 2000 North American Car of the Year and North American Truck of the Year awards were announced this morning in advance of the Press Days of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) 2000. This year's North American Car of the Year award went to the Ford Focus with the North American Truck of the Year award going to the Nissan Xterra. The North American Car of the Year award was made from finalists that included the Audi TT, Ford Focus, and Lincoln LS in the car category. Finalists for the North American Truck of the Year award included the Dodge Dakota Quad Cab, Nissan Xterra, and Toyota Tundra. The awards were created five years ago to give consumers across North American an idea of what many of the continent's top auto writers thought were the best new vehicles of the year. Although presented at NAIAS 2000, the North American Car of the Year and North American Truck of the Year awards are independent of the annual event and governed by a jury of no more than 50 print, broadcast and electronic journalists. Jurors were asked to consider the nominated vehicles from several perspectives, but particularly the impact they believe each will have on the segment in which they compete. "It can be a great car or a fun car, but if it doesn't raise the bar in its particular segment, it isn't going to make the list of finalists," said Christopher Jensen, head of the 1999 organizing committee for the awards. "The idea is to focus the expertise of North America's top automotive journalists on the newest cars and trucks from America, Asia and Europe," said Jensen. "What these experts are asked to do is help consumers by selecting the most innovative and value-packed vehicles in their segments, vehicles that set new benchmarks." Unlike other awards, in which winners are notified in advance, only Richard Gabrys, vice chairman of Deloitte & Touche, knew who the winners of the North American Car of the Year and North American Truck of the Year award were in advance of the presentation. "Automakers like to talk about surprise and delight features on their vehicles," said Jensen, automotive editor at The Plain Dealer of Cleveland. "By maintaining this level of secrecy on the awards winners, we were able to do some surprising and delighting of our own when the envelopes were opened." Ferdinand Piech, chairman of Volkswagen AG, is most likely a believer. When he hadn't heard in advance of the New Beetle winning last year's North American Car of the Year honors, he had initially opted not to travel to Detroit for the awards ceremony. Persuaded to attend by his U.S.-based executives, he was stunned (and delighted) when his personal choice won. Along with Jensen, members of the organizing committee include Tony Swan, of Car and Driver; John McElroy, of Blue Sky Productions; John Davis, of MotorWeek; John Stewart, of Petersen Publications; and free-lance journalists Ken Gross, Jim McCraw and Alex Law.