H.W. Park, Hyundai managing director and chief executive, and Hyundai… (Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty…)
The Hyundai Elantra and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque won the car and truck of the year awards at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
It was a big win for the Elantra, one of a series of new models the South Korean manufacturer has introduced in an effort to establish itself as a major automotive brand in the United States.
Hyundai has grown rapidly in recent years. It sold almost 650,000 vehicles last year, most made at factories in the United States. It now accounts for just over 5% of the U.S. auto market.
Produced at a factory in Montgomery, Ala., the subcompact sedan has become a strong competitor to the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla, the traditional sales leaders in the small-car market. Hyundai sold more than 186,000 Elantras in the model's first full year. That compared to 221,000 Civics and 240,000 Corollas, according to Autodata Corp.
“The award is important because it is not yet the case that the Hyundai is the default choice,” said John Krafcik, chief executive of Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America. “This a nice feeling for the brand.”
The Elantra beat out two finalists, the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Passat.
The award is made by a group of automotive journalists from the United States and Canada representing magazines, television, radio, newspapers and websites. The awards are financed by the jurors’ dues and the organization – the North American Car and Truck of the Year Organizing Committee -- does not accept advertising from automakers.
The 2012 Range Rover Evoque is a small sport-utility vehicle that won over two other similar-sized finalists, the BMW X3 and the Honda CR-V.
“This recognition is in keeping with the overwhelmingly positive global response from consumers who are selecting the vehicle for its ideal combination of luxury and capability, within a sustainable package,” said Andy Goss, president of Jaguar Land Rover North America.
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