This past Monday at the Detroit Auto Show, Ford Motor Company won two top awards: its Fusion Hybrid midsize sedan and Transit Connect compact van took the Car and Truck of the Year prizes. This is only the third time in the seventeen years of the awards’ history that one automaker has taken both categories. Winners are decided each year by 49 auto journalists.
Other finalists for the prizes were the Buick LaCrosse and the Volkswagen Golf GTI and TDI diesel models. For the truck award, other finalists included the Chevrolet Equinox and the Subaru Outback.
Ford is shaping up and streamlining its operations to survive in the current market. Recent decisions to revamp its lineup and standardize auto parts for all models globally are helping the company to excel in an environment that has been less than hospitable.
The new “world car” model has about 80% of the same parts as the models in Europe and Asia. Efforts to standardize will culminate in the company’s launch of the 2012 Focus at the auto show this week. Ford wants to see the Focus become the standard for economical car production worldwide.
Other automakers showed their latest models at the show as well. Toyota unveiled their hybrid concept car, the FT-CH compact. Although Toyota says the car could be sold under the Prius name, as a concept car there are no firm plans for production or sales. The FT-CH is 22 inches lower than the Prius and is also lighter and more fuel efficient, and is styled based on 1980’s 8-bit video games geared toward a younger crowd.
Chairman Bob Lutz says GM plans to build an all-electric model of the Volt by designing a larger battery and completely doing away with the traditional gas powered backup engine. The car will cost about $40,000 before tax credits.
Chrysler showed off two Fiat models at the show: the Lancia Delta hatchback and a battery powered Fiat 500. The company is currently being run by Fiat, and plans are to take advantage of the Italian automaker’s designs and engineering to offer smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles under the Chrysler nameplate .
Honda’s 2011 CR-Z is also on display at the show. This latest model is a hybrid that will be available in the summer and is a sporty two-seater hatchback model. The car has compact roadster styling and is equipped with different driving modes to allow the driver to choose between sport, normal and economy settings.