BEIJING, Jan. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- The Hyundai Genesis was voted the 2009 North American Car of the Year at the Detroit auto show on Sunday, while Ford's redesigned F-150 pickup truck took home top honors in the truck category.
The win by the Genesis, Hyundai's top-of-the-line sedan, was the first for a South Korean automaker since the award was launched in 1994. It was the fifth Truck of the Year award for Ford and the third for the F-150.
The awards are based on factors such as innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value. Reliability isn't considered because the vehicles are new. The Genesis sedan won 189 out of 500 votes from U.S. and Canadian automotive journalists, beating out Ford's Flex and Volkswagen's Jetta TDI for the win.
"It is the perfect luxury car for bad economic times," priced below 40,000 U.S. dollars, John Krafcik, president of Hyundai Motor America told reporters. Car buyers now "do not want to pay a premium for luxury," he commented.
Launched in mid-2008 in North America, Hyundai has sold a mere 6,167 Genesis sedans in Canada and the United States, competing mostly with BMW's 5 Series.
A "dream car for the recession," commented Jayne O'Donnell of USA Today. "It has everything you'd want in a luxury car except the fancy hood ornament."
Ford meanwhile secured another win in the "best truck of the year" category with 259 votes for its F-150, beating out runners-up the Dodge Ram and Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTec. The F-150 has dominated the category for 32 years.
Despite slipping truck sales, which peaked in 2005, Mark Fields, president of Ford's Americas division, told reporters that truck buyers "need the vehicles for work" and so he sees sales leveling off soon.
The annual car and truck awards carry some weight in the automotive community because they are presented by a panel of 50 journalists from TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. That's a broader base of opinion than what underpins many of the other automotive "best of" awards doled out each model year.
Although the awards are announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the award is not connected with the auto show which opened Sunday as one of world's most prestigious of its kind.
Two of China's auto companies, BYD and Brilliant Car, also displayed their new products, including some green cars, on the main floor for the first time.