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Detroit Automakers snag 5 of the 6 Finalists for the 2008 Car and Truck of the Year Awards

PHOTO BY LAUREN FANT / AMERICAJR.com

The Chevy Malibu is among the finalists for 2008 North American Car of the Year.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

WATCH: Unveiling of the 2008 North American Car and Truck of the Year Finalists [VIDEO]

DETROIT -- Four General Motors vehicles and one Mazda crossover were announced as finalists for the 2008 North American Car and Truck of the Year at a special meeting of the Detroit Economic Club on Wednesday at Cobo Center. The only foreign automaker named a finalist was Honda in the truck category.

The finalists for the Car of the Year include the Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Malibu and the Honda Accord. Finalists for the Truck of the Year are the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and the Mazda CX-9. Mazda is a Ford Motor Company brand. The 2008 Car and Truck of the Year awards will be announced on the first day of the 2008 NAIAS press preview on January 13.

The Car and Truck of the Year awards are voted on by a panel of 48 journalists who cover the automobile industry. The organization was created to determine the best new products from automakers each year. In the fall, journalists narrowed down a long list to a short list of 15 cars and 13 trucks. Judges were given a maximum of 10 points for each vehicle. In the third round of voting, the short list was narrowed down to three cars and three trucks.

John McElroy is the host of "Autoline Detroit," a TV show on Detroit Public Television and on the cable channel SPEED. He unveiled the finalists alongside WDIV personality Guy Gordon at the meeting.

"We all decide what we think is the best car and best truck," said McElroy. "A new vehicle comes out more than once a week. Jurors come in and test drive vehicles back-to-back. You can't buy a bad car anymore."

Keith Crain, Chairman of Crain Communications, Inc. and Publisher of Automotive News, was the keynote speaker at the special meeting of the D.E.C.

"The North American International Auto Show attracts over half a billion dollars each and every year," said Crain of the annual event that takes place at Cobo Center. "Face up to the competitive reality. We need more space, more loading docks. We need it now. If we ever lost this show, we'd never come close to replacing it."

"A show of global importance. It's the only global show in North America and it's right here. Other major cities are doing anything to rest it away."

The chairman and publisher noted that more automakers are competing with Detroit's Big Three now than ever before. Five Chinese automakers will display their automobiles for the first time at the upcoming 2008 NAIAS in January.

"GM, Ford, Chrysler facing all kinds of competitors," Crain said. "In 1990s, Detroit automakers prospered. GM is doing so well in China. The challenge is to cope with global markets. GM made up by aggressive expansion, massive cuts."

He offered some suggestions to Detroit's Big Three. "Bring number of dealers in line with sales. Offer products that Americans want to buy better than foreign competitors. Every company has to innovate. Cars need to get better, safer, cleaner. All these things are happening."

Then, Crain spoke about each automaker individually. "Ford is struggling more than GM," he said. "Bill Ford brought in Alan Mulally. Ford has cut tens of thousands from its payroll. It's hit vehicle was the Taurus."

In terms of Chrysler, the chairman and publisher said: "It's debatable whether Cerberus will fund Chrysler and GMAC. Chrysler has a great executive team."

"Tomorrow, the Chinese will be coming. Five. Five Chinese vehicles will be showing their models," said Crain. "Don't count our Big Three out of the game for a minute."

I had the chance to ask a question for the speaker, Keith Crain. My question was: "We hear a lot of negative news about Detroit's Big Three automakers. What are some of the advantages that the Big Three has over its foreign competitors?"

Crain responded: "Our leadership in the truck side. We better be a lot better. We have to get better products. Not good, not great. Spectacular."

The presiding officer for the meeting was Tarik Daoud, Chairman of Al Long Ford, Inc.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

AmericaJR.com's Lauren Fant stands next to the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, a finalist for 2008 North American Truck of the Year.

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This page was last updated on Fri, December 14, 2007 2:39 PM

 

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