General Motors Co. enjoyed a clean sweep of the 2014 Car and Truck of the Year awards Monday at the North American International Auto Show, a moment that company officials say vindicates its government bailout and turnaround since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009.
The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray was named 2014 Car of the Year and the Chevrolet Silverado was named 2014 Truck of the Year.
“I’m really proud of the whole global product development team, starting with design through engineering and powertrain,” incoming GM CEO Mary Barra told reporters Monday. “They’ve worked really hard. They’ve sweated the details of each and every aspect of those vehicles.”
GM is hoping the “significant” moment will translate into sales.
“I hope that people look, and if they haven’t considered General Motors or Chevrolet, they’ll get into the showroom because I’m confident if they get to the showroom, they’re going to see a lot of vehicles they’ll like,” Barra said.
The last automaker to sweep the awards was Ford Motor Co. in 2010. The Ford Fusion Hybrid was named 2010 Car of the Year and the Ford Transit Connect was named 2010 Truck of the Year. GM has swept the awards, too, doing so in 2007 with the Saturn Aura and Chevrolet Silverado.
Almost a year exactly from when it was introduced at last year’s auto show, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette is the first version of the two-seat sports car to wear the Stingray badge in decades. Its debut was considered a highlight of the 2013 Detroit Auto Show and a high-performance model, the Corvette Z06, is debuting Monday. Corvette previously was named Car of the Year in 1998.
The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado marks the latest redesign of the full-size truck, regularly the nation’s second best-selling pickup behind the Ford F-Series. While conservative in design, it has won strong praise for its new features. GM has taken Truck of the Year honors four times.
GM on Friday recalled 370,000 2014 Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups over possible fire risks because of a software glitch that led the trucks to idle hot. Alan Batey, GM’s incoming president of GM North America, said recalls happen and moving fast is important to customers.
“You have to put the customer in the middle and respond fast and we did that,” Batey told reporters.
Batey said the Corvette orders continue to be strong.
“Everything that’s in the factory is pretty much customer sold,” he said.
GM hopes the awards will help continue to build strength in the brands.
“We aknowlege that our brand health isn’t where it needs to be over the long haul,” Batey said. “So this external recognition… just again reinforces to the public that General Motors, Chevrolet and Cadillac last year is really on the move.”
“This industry is all about momentum,” GM North America President Mark Reuss said. “There are people here who believe we can win again, and this demonstrates it.”
Reuss added the Detroit automaker also will benefit from the accolades because it demonstrates its commitment to building quality vehicles.
“The market share will come because we’re making excellent product as witnessed here today,” he said.
Tadge Juechter, head of Chevrolet’s Corvette program, added it’s been “quite a year for us.”
“This puts an exclamation point for what’s been an unbelievable year for us,” Juechter said
Now in its 21st year, the 2014 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards event has become a fixture of the annual North American International Auto Show, and one of the most important honors a manufacturer can claim. In the past, winners have promoted their victories almost immediately to set themselves apart from their rivals in today’s crowded automotive market. The awards also kick off the first of two press days at the Detroit auto show.
There were six finalists up for awards this year, and three of them were General Motors products.
The other Car of the Year finalists:
■The 2014 Cadillac CTS in its third generation has been a game-changer for Caddy, helping it regain some of the ground it has lost to imports over the years. The new CTS is larger and more lavish than the outgoing sedan, giving some breathing room to the smaller Cadillac ATS that won in 2013. If either GM model wins, it would be the maker’s sixth car of the year award.
■The 2014 Mazda3 marks only the second time the Japanese maker has been a finalist; the RX-8 made the list in 2004. Offered in both sedan and hatchback form, the Mazda3 has received kudos for its blend of features, performance and fuel economy, using the maker’s new SkyActiv technology.
The other Truck of the Year finalists:
■The all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee marks the revival of a once-familiar SUV nameplate. But this is no retro truck. Chrysler designers have generated quite a bit of controversy — along with praise — for the new crossover-utility vehicles distinctive styling and features. It would be the fourth truck to win for Chrysler, following the Ram 1500 in 2013.
■The 2014 Acura MDX has been heralded for its strong styling, and for a balance of on-road manners and off-road capabilities. It has routinely been the best-selling vehicle in the Acura lineup. Parent Honda has won three times in the truck category, the MDX previously taking that honor in 2001.
Over the years, Detroit automakers have been named North American Car of the Year 12 times; the Japanese have won three times; Europeans four times; and Korea’s Hyundai has won twice.
On the truck side, domestics have won 14 times, the Japanese four times and Europeans three.
The North American Car and Truck of the Year are chosen by a jury of 48 automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada.
Melissa Burden contributed.