Ford Motor Company [NYSE: F] has managed to rise from the ashes of the automotive crisis stronger than ever, snagging the prestigious awards in two distinct market sectors for their Fusion™ passenger sedan and Transit Connect™ commercial vehicle. A panel of 49 automotive journalists at the Detroit Auto Show named the vehicles North American Car and Truck of the year, respectively. It represents a huge stride for a domestic automaker to sweep the awards in this fashion, especially in an era of bailouts and struggling sales (although it should be noted that Ford is the only American Car Manufacturer who didn’t require bailout money during the financial crisis).
2010 Car of the Year – Ford Fusion
The Fusion is Ford’s anchor model, and has been a strong performer for the company since its introduction. However a comprehensive redesign for 2010 cemented the vehicle’s position at the top of its class. The stellar performance of the Fusion’s hybrid version was one of the biggest factors in the panel’s decision. Jurors were impressed with the quality of the fuel-sipping vehicle’s solid ride and the fact that it looks and drives like a normal car even though it is a full hybrid capable of running in electric-only mode at speeds up to 47mph, doubling the capabilities of its main competitor the Toyota Prius. “Though not the first hybrid on the market, or even the second or third, the Fusion Hybrid is simply the best one ever built,” said Csaba Csere, former editor-in-chief of Car & Driver Magazine.
2010 Truck of the Year – Ford Transit Connect
While the Fusion may have been a shoo-in for car of the year, the Transit Connect’s victory as truck of the year took some people by surprise. It is definitely a non traditional vehicle in the category, and it is a bit unlike any of its counterparts that vied for the title. First of all, the Transit Connect is mainly being marketed as a commercial vehicle for small business owners. However its unique combination of versatility, utility, and frugality won over the judges’ favor. The vehicle has been available in the European market for 2 years, and was designed to be able to navigate urban settings efficiently. However one of the best selling points for the light truck is the fact that the Transit connect is able to meet the needs of business customers by hauling up to 1,600 pounds of cargo and save considerable amounts of fuel doing it – the Transit Connect’s fuel efficiency figures of 22/City 25/Highway are about double the nearest competitor in its class. Ford also has plans for an all-electric version of the Transit Connect to be introduced in 2011.