The Chevrolet Volt is the 2011 North American Car of the Year and the Ford Explorer (an SUV) is the 2011 North American Truck of the Year.
The winners were revealed Jan. 11 at the North American International Auto Show.
While hybrid vehicles have won four times in the 18 years that the awards have been given, this was the first win for a vehicle that can move a meaningful distance on electric power alone.
The winners were chosen by a jury of 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada.
The awards are unique in the United States because instead of being given by a single media outlet they are awarded by a coalition of Canadian and U.S. automotive journalists who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and websites.
The awards are designed to recognize the most outstanding new vehicles of the year. These vehicles are considered benchmarks in their segments based on factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.
It is the fourth time General Motors has won Car of the Year; the Chevrolet Malibu took the top spot in 2008.
It was the second year in a row that a Ford was named Truck of the Year. Last year the winner was the Transit Connect. It is also the seventh time a Ford has been the “North American Truck of the Year,” a category it has dominated.
To be eligible a vehicle must be all new or “substantially changed.”