Hyundai Elantra Named ‘Car of the Year’ at Detroit Auto Show

DETROIT, Michigan, January 9, 2012 (ENS) – The 2012 Hyundai Elantra and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque were named North American Car and Truck of the year today by a panel of automotive journalists. The awards came early this morning following the opening ceremonies of one of the world’s largest and most influential auto shows – the 2012 North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit.

The Elantra surpassed the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Passat, the other two finalists for the car of the year award. The Evoque beat out the BMW X3 and the Honda CR-V. The finalists were named in December by the 50 independent automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who make up the North American Car of the Year voting panel.

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra named North American Car of the Year (Photo courtesy Michelin Media)

“We’re very humbled, said Hyundai Motor America chief executive John Krafcik. “The Focus is an amazing car, the Passat is incredible.”

Since it was redesigned for the 2011 model year, Hyundai has sold more than 200,000 Elantras, said Krafcik. Hyundai manufactures the compact car, which gets 40 miles per gallon on the highway, at its factory in Montgomery, Alabama.

“The Hyundai Elantra is sporty, yet sensible. Luxurious, yet affordable. Spunky, but safe. The Elantra is a series of paradoxes and every one is another argument for the latest, impressive entry in the Hyundai lineup,” wrote Jayne O’Donnell, a member of the jury from “USA Today.”

The North American Truck of the Year Range Rover Evoque is a luxury SUV with a 2.0-liter direct injection turbo four-cylinder that achieves 28 miles per gallon on the highway.

Another juror, Alex Taylor, of “Fortune” magazine, wrote, “Range Rover successfully charts a new direction for the venerable SUV trailblazer with a fresh design and advanced thinking about environmental issues.”

Opening to the media today, the North American International Auto Show will welcome an estimated 5,000 automotive journalists from more than 50 countries and top executives from all the world’s major auto manufacturers.

They will be joined by national and state elected government officials, including four members of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet – Commerce Secretary John Bryson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

Andy Goss, president of Jaguar Land Rover North America, right, and Kim McCullough, brand vice president for Land Rover North America, with their award-winning Range Rover Evoque at the Detroit Auto Show, January 9, 2012 (Photo courtesy Michelin Media)

The show will fill the Cobo Center and the Joe Louis Arena. Exhibiting manufacturers include: Acura, AMG, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, CODA Automotive, Dodge, Falcon Motor Sports, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jeep, Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Maserati, Maybach, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Nissan, Porsche, Ram, Scion, Shelby American, Smart, SRT, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, VIA Motors, Vehicle Production Group, Volkswagen, and Volvo.

“The North American International Auto Show provides a world stage for the automotive industry and, this week, will generate an enormous level of excitement from the more than 40 new vehicle introductions and overall positive industry news,” said Bill Perkins, chairman, NAIAS 2012.

“Using the backdrop of the world’s most exciting vehicles and displays, the NAIAS has become the venue for executives representing the global automotive industry and our elected officials to interact and network. We’re pleased to welcome those that shape this industry and our country’s policies to the Motor City.”

The press preview days are Monday and Tuesday. The industry preview days are Wednesday and Thursday, while Friday is a charity preview day. On Saturday, January 14, the show opens to the general public with more than 500 new cars and trucks on display.

A preview of Ford’s display at 2012 NAIAS reveals a 20-foot-tall elevator that takes show guests up into “the Cloud” for a 360-degree cinema experience showcasing the future of in-vehicle technology

Leading up to their visit to “the Cloud,” groups of 12 visitors are guided through stations that explain how Ford technology is addressing future trends, including Changing Population Demographics, Emerging Technologies and Living Green.

Ford will feature its new 2013 Fusion that the company says is the first mid-sized sedan made in gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions – each expected to deliver top fuel economy.

“Our vision for Fusion was clear – deliver the very best of what One Ford stands for,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president of Global Product Development. “We brought our global teams together around a blank slate with the charge to develop a midsize car with groundbreaking design and jaw-dropping fuel economy – one that featured technologies to help make our customers safer and better drivers. This car is the result.”

Daimler’s urban pickup concept, the smart for-us, on the floor of the Detroit Auto Show (Photo courtesy Michelin Media)

Daimler will unveil its smart for-us electric pickup truck in a world premier event. The state-of-the-art electric drive features a 55 kW magneto-electric motor with a maximum speed of 120 km/hour (75 mph).

Dr. Annette Winkler, smart CEO, said, “We at smart love pick-ups – if they are small on the outside, large on the inside, very safe and extremely comfortable. With the smart for-us a petrol station is no longer required!”

The smart for-us is a “mobility concept,” the company says. It has room for two people and space for two smart ebikes behind them. A docking station on the cargo area of the smart for-us ensures the ebike batteries are always charged, and smart for-us drivers can reach destinations that are out of bounds for cars – for example traffic-calmed zones in the city or isolated park trails.

Volkswagen plans to unveil an all-electric concept car with styling inspired by the iconic Beetle.

Also on deck at the Volkswagen stand is a new Jetta Hybrid with a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that works in tandem with a 27 kWh electric motor.

“VW as a brand takes the electrification of the automobile very seriously, and we have a longtime strategy for growing that business,” said VW product strategist Toscan Bennet. “The Jetta hybrid is our first entry in that strategy.”

Volvo is introducing their first hybrid, the Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept, based on the XC60 crossover vehicle. The front wheels are driven by a four-cylinder turbocharged gas engine with 280 hp. The back wheels are driven by an electric motor producing 70 hp from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

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