NACTOY

Ford, Hyundai win big as 2021 North American Car, Truck, SUV of the Year announced

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E came up with a trophy at the annual NACTOY awards.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

While it's an honor just to be nominated as a finalist, three vehicles stood out to the jurors of the North American Car, Truck, and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) awards. All NACTOY nominees are vehicles that have either been introduced for the 2021 model year or undergone a significant redesign.

Ford and Hyundai earned top honors with the Ford F-150 earning the North American Truck of the Year award, Ford Mustang Mach-E taking the North American SUV of the Year trophy, and the Hyundai Elantra getting the North American Car of the Year nod.

2021 North American Car of the Year: Hyundai Elantra

2021 Hyundai Elantra

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai has redesigned the Hyundai Elantra for the 2021 model year taking it from a passive daily driver to an engaging small car with a lot of zip, especially in the Elantra N model where it gets a standard manual transmission and tuning to make it a sleeper. It also has a boatload of high-tech features that make it punch far above its price tag, which starts under $20,000.

2021 North American Truck of the Year: Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150 Tremor Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford didn't just redesign its F-150, it listened to its customers and made it better for them. Sure, that seems simple enough but while they may get accused of not going far enough, NACTOY jurors appear to have recognized how innovative the redesign is for the average F-150 customer. On-board generator? Check. Collapsable shifter? Check. Fold out work station for the driver? Check. Clamp zones in the tailgate? Check.

Ford recently made news saying that the F-150 will be the latest model that is available with the Tremor off-roading package.

2021 North American SUV of the Year: Ford Mustang Mach-E

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford Mustang Mach-E is the first all-electric crossover the company has offered and Ford is aiming to do it 100 percent right the first time. Like other electric SUVs, the Mustang Mach-E comes in a variety of battery range levels. Ford is pairing those with options for all-wheel drive and premium appointments, treating the Mustang Mach-E more as a traditional vehicle than an electric outlier.

Ford recently announced a new Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition will be added for the 2022 model year.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

A new robot is helping with customer service at one Hyundai store in South Korea as part of a trial program.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

You're probably familiar with Wall-E. Now, meet DAL-e, a robot that is currently being tested as a customer service representative at a Hyundai Motor showroom in southern Seoul.

DAL-e is a acronym for "Drive you, Assist you, Link with you-experience." The robot uses artificial intelligence technology for facial recognition as well as an automatic communication system based on a language-comprehension platform to assist clients.

"The DAL-e is a next-generation service platform that can offer automated customer services anytime. It is expected to become a messenger capable of delivering consistent messages to customers in a more intimate and personal way than conventional robots," said Dong Jin Hyun, Vice President and Head of the Robotics Lab at Hyundai Motor Group.

Hyundai Motor Group's DAL-E robot

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

"With continuous updates and improvements, the DAL-e will provide fresh, pleasant experiences to our valued customers in a contact-free environment. Our objective is to enable the DAL-e to engage in a smooth and entertaining communication with customers and present valuable services to them."

The robot has a truncated yet humanoid body that is designed to have a welcoming appeal to customers. It measures 1,160 x 600 x 600 millimeters and weighs jut 80 kilograms.

Engineers have given DAL-e "emotive physical features" and the ability to engage in "smooth dialogue" utilizing both speech and touch screen commands. Additionally, DAL-e can move freely throughout the store and even guide customers to designated spots using its four-wheel capability.

Customers learn from the robot as well as be entertained by it DAL-e is able to wirelessly connect to a large display screen at the back of the store and encourages visitors to take photos with it by providing gestured feedbacks with its movable arms. In the event that a customer enters the showroom without wearing a mask, the android recognizes it and advises the customer to wear one.

Hyundai Motor Group plans to continuously update the DAL-e based on data from pilot operations, perfecting its operational capabilities as an advanced android robot.

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Volvo is allowing Super Bowl LV fans to enter to win a free car - terms and conditions apply.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Volvo Car USA Is bringing back its Volvo Safety Sunday campaign for this year's big game. This time around, they're giving away up to $2 million worth of cars.

When the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Super Bowl LV on February 7, 2021, Volvo fans won't be talking about the old guard/new guard quarterback battle. They'll instead be hoping for a safety.

Here's how it works. For a chance to win a free car, contestants visit VolvoSafetySunday.com between January 25 and February 7, 2021 to design, in any trim and color available in the U.S. Entrants can build their car in the Volvo vehicle configurator or take a short quiz that will recommend a model based on their lifestyle. Once configured, users must click "Try to win this Volvo" on the summary page to enter. Full rules, terms and conditions can be found at VolvoSafetySunday.com.

Potential winners must enter the contest ahead of Super Bowll LV.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Volvo Safety Sunday 2021

Then, it's all up to the Chiefs and Bucs. It doesn't matter which team scores the safety. As long as one football lands in the end zone to score two points, there will be winners. Think it's a long shot? Remember that just last week the Buffalo Bills scored their first points of the game via a safety.

The giveaway is part of a larger push by Volvo to focus on the safety offered by their vehicles. The company is currently innovating to address the challenges of speed, intoxication, and distraction. Some of this work includes looking at how smart speed control and geofencing can automatically limit vehicle speeds near schools and hospitals in the future.

A new vehicle, designed to rise to meet some of this with hands-free driving software built in, is the redesigned 2022 Volvo XC90, which is expected to go on sale later this year. The XC90 is Volvo's best-selling SUV in the U.S. It comes in two- and three-row configurations, is available with a plug-in hybrid electric powertrain, and routinely is evaluated as having one of the poshest cabins in its class.

Last year, Volvo put $1 million worth of cars on the line to celebrate the more than one million lives saved by the three-point safety belt, a Volvo invention.

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