13
Jan
10

Ford Fusion Hybrid, Transit Connect win Car and Truck of the Year awards

Shawn Wright
Automotive News | January 11, 2010 – 8:00 am EST


DETROIT — The Ford Fusion Hybrid was named the North American Car of the Year today, while Ford’s Transit Connect picked up Truck of the Year accolades in a poll of journalists. It is only the third time in 17 years that a single manufacturer has won both titles. “We’ve been focusing very relentlessly on our strategy around making sure our vehicles are world-class in the areas of fuel economy, safety, quality and smart technology,” Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas, said after the morning ceremony. “We’re just so glad we’re being recognized for that, both by the journalists but also, more importantly, by the customers.”

In 2009, Ford posted its first full-year gain in U.S. market share in 15 years.The automaker sold 15,559 Fusion Hybrids last year. The Fusion Hybrid topped the two other car finalists, the Buick LaCrosse and Volkswagen Golf. It’s just the second time a Ford car has taken the award. The Focus won in 2000. The Transit Connect, a small cargo truck, came out on top over the Chevrolet Equinox and Subaru Outback crossovers.

“The Transit Connect is what we call a white-space vehicle — there’s nothing like it on the road,” Fields said. “When you see this on the road, your first reaction is, ‘What is that?’ ”
As of mid-December, more than 600,000 Transit Connects have been sold over seven years in 55 countries. Ford has sold 8,834 Transit Connects since it entered the U.S. market in July.
U.S.-based automakers have taken home the car trophy nine times. European companies have won four times, Japanese three and South Korea’s Hyundai once.
In the truck category, domestics have claimed the crown 11 times, followed by four for Japanese makes and two for Europeans.

Ford has dominated the domestics, winning the award five times. The F-150 pickup won in 2009, 2004 and 1996. The Ford Escape Hybrid crossover took home Truck of the Year in 2005, as did the Ford Expedition SUV in 1997. Last year, the Hyundai Genesis won Car of the Year and the F-150 Truck of the Year.

It was the second time a Ford hybrid vehicle took the award. More than 50 vehicles were considered this year. Automotive News is represented on the 49-member voting panel by Executive Editor Edward Lapham. “This is such a motivator for our team to be recognized by the Car and Truck of the Year jury,” Fields said. “These are the most demanding journalists, and we were in a set of very, very tough competitions. … I think it just shows that we’re headed in the right direction.”

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