Award Season

2020 North American Car, Truck, SUV of the Year Announced

The North American Car, Truck, and SUV of the Year were announced today in Detroit.

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

A classic, a formidable newcomer, and a retro-inspired modern truck took top honors at this year's North American Car, Truck, SUV of the year awards today in Detroit. The winners are:

2020 North American Car of the Year: Chevrolet Corvette

2020 Chevrolet Corvette

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Chevrolet Corvette has been completely redesigned for the 2020 model year. It features a new mid-engine V8 powertrain and a sleek interior unlike anything else in the Chevy lineup.

2020 North American Truck of the Year: Jeep Gladiator

2020 Jeep Gladiator

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

The Jeep Gladiator is more than just a Wrangler with a bed. It's a formidable truck in its own right, delivering the power and capability drivers are looking for. It also retains much of the look of the Wrangler, something brand enthusiasts were hoping for.

2020 North American SUV of the Year: Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The American-made Kia Telluride arrived in advertisements during the Super Bowl and the public's appetite for the model was whetted. It's gone on to be a serious contender in the three-row SUV class, showing just what Kia is capable of producing.

AutomotiveMap's Sue Mead is a NACTOY juror. You can read her review of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette here.

Kia Motors has given insight into the company's future product plans.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia is charging ahead with an aggressive electric vehicle (EV) implementation plan that includes 11 new vehicles in the next five years. The strategy, called "Plan S" starts with the company's first dedicated EV in 2021.

Plan S is a dual-focus shift for the company. On one side they will be progressing toward an EV-centric product strategy while in the other hand Kia will be focusing on customized mobility solutions. They will also be focusing on autonomous vehicle development.

By the end of 2025, Kia plans to offer a full line-up of 11 battery electric vehicles. The company is aiming to have 25 percent of its vehicle sales outside of China come from what they call "eco-friendly cars" by 2025 on their way to achieving a 6.6 percent market share in the global EV market (500,000 annual EV sales excluding China). According to a McKinsey & Co. analysis published April, the U.S. EV market almost doubled to 360,000 EV units in 2018, mainly because of the strong sales performance of Tesla's Model 3.

From 2022, Kia plans to add EVs in the passenger vehicles, SUVs, and MPVs categories. They further outlined their electric vehicle development:

The dedicated EV model to be launched 2021 will be built on a unique platform specifically engineered to accommodate the car's world-leading EV powertrain and technologies. It will offer a crossover design which blurs the boundaries between passenger and sport utility vehicles, a future-oriented user experience, a single-charge driving range of over 500 kilometers, and sub-20-minute high-speed charging time.

Across its EV line-up, Kia plans to operate two different types of EVs with different charging capabilities (400V/800V) -- high-performance dedicated models and derivative models with reasonable pricing -- to meet the diverse needs of customers.

Growth in global EV sales will be pursued in accordance with a customized, market-oriented strategy, which considers regional differences in environmental regulation, subsidies, infrastructure and more.

These EVs are expected to first be sold as a trim level option in Kia vehicles in the same vein as the Niro EV and Soul EV.

Additional Kia expansion is planned to come from car-sharing and e-commerce businesses.

"Plan S is a bold and enterprising roadmap for Kia's future business transition, buttressed by the two pillars of electric vehicles and mobility solutions," said Han-woo Park, president and CEO, Kia Motors. "Our approach is to put customers first, and Kia will reinvigorate its brand innovation by developing products and services that offer new experiences for customers."

Easily missed in this plan is Kia's proposition to raise the sales of internal combustion engined vehicles while at the same time establish the development system for EV architecture. Though they say that they'll focus those efforts on emerging markets, it's relatively safe to say that the Soul, Forte, and Telluride aren't going away any time soon.

Kia is activating recent partnerships and company share acquitions to get to this goal. Last year, the Korean automaker invested in Croatian performance EV manufacturer Rimac Automobili and IONITY, which specializes in building high-speed charging infrastructures.

They're also planning on building "Mobility Hubs", transfer stations between electric vehicles and internal combustion engine vehicles. Long term plans call for self-driving robotaxis and on-demand roboshuttles to also populate these Mobility Hubs.

Kia is part of a car-sharing services joint venture with Repsol, Spain's major energy corporation, in Madrid via its WiBLE brand.