Two foreign automakers managed to beat domestic competitors for prestigious awards at this year's North American International Auto Show.
The Honda Civic nabbed the honor of North American Car of the Year in the first event to kick off the 2016 Detroit auto show, while The Volvo XC90 received the award of North American Truck of the Year, . This marked the second time that the Civic and XC90 have won an award at the event, the first being in 2006 for the former and 2003 for the latter.
Other car finalists included the Chevrolet Malibu and the Mazda MX-5 Miata, and truck finalists included the Honda Pilot and the Nissan Titan XD.
"What a great competitive set to be in with Malibu and Miata. All great cars," said John Mendel, executive vice president of Honda's U.S. operations, adding that the award also serves as "added pressure" for the Japanese company, which is already working on the next-generation Civic, the .
Volvo was sold in 2010 by Ford Motor to Chinese investors and has been trying to become a big player in the U.S. market again ever since. Lex Keemakers, president and CEO of Volvo's operations in the Americas, said that the Swedish company plans on using the XC90's new award for marketing, especially for its new models.
"It's a very well-known award, and I think people look at it. Customers need references. It's a very competitive environment outside," Keemakers said, adding that the award shows the legitimacy of Volvo's newly designed engines, architectures and transmissions. "As we are using in the future the same platforms, the same drivetrains for all the other cars to follow, this shows that were absolutely on the right track."
The North American International Auto Show launched its awards program in 1993, and automakers looking to enter must have cars that are either all new or have been significantly changed, according to AP.
The awards are given out by an independent jury of automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada, the Detroit Free Press noted.
Domestic automakers won North American Car of the Year 12 times in the last 22 years (not counting this year), and foreign automakers have won 10 times. Japanese car companies have won three times, European automakers won five times, and Korean companies won two times.