By on January 17, 2011

„The naming of the Chevrolet Volt as the North American Car of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show last week is sparking some controversy,” reports the Chosun Ilbo from Korea. “The main reason for the skepticism is that the Volt has sold only some 300 units since its launch a month ago. It is the first time that a car with such limited sales has won the award.”

The real sales could be less. “A GM source at the motor show admitted that the Volt’s sales were refigured at the last minute for the award,” writes the paper. What really bothers them: ”Hyundai’s new Sonata, one of the finalists for this year’s award, has sold some 202,000 cars in the U.S. and Canada.”

Without outright saying it, the Chosun Ilbo calls shenanigans. Amongst the 21 contenders, there were 10 Asian and six European nameplates. When the field was whittled down to three contenders, left standing were the Nissan Leaf, the Hyundai Sonata, and the Chevrolet Volt. That the Volt won against all odds doesn’t surprise the paper: “The North American Car of the Year award recently has been disproportionately won by U.S. vehicles.”

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55 Comments on “Volt COTY: Korean Paper Calls B.S....”


  • avatar
    forraymond

    “The North American Car of the Year award recently has been disproportionately won by U.S. vehicles.”
     
    Well, DUH!

    • 0 avatar
      Tricky Dicky

      The Leaf won the European COTY last month…
      Made in Japan, which uh, isn’t in Europe. Or maybe this is a comment about the fairness of a North American set of judges?

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Presuming the Koreans even have a Seoul Auto Show with a “Car of the Year” award, how many times have Americans won the prestigious Seoul Auto Show Car of the Year?

    • 0 avatar

      First off, I wonder if the Chosun Ilbo article mentioned what cars have recently won the Korean COTY awards. In my experience, Asians can be quick to call westerners biased while patently ignoring the bigotries of their own societies. As Prof. Lewis Lancaster once told me, Americans are rank amateurs when it comes to racism, certainly compared to Asian societies. I was once told by Japanese native supervisor that the word “oriental” was “offensive”. When I asked him if the word “occidental” was also offensive he just looked at me quizzically.
      “The North American Car of the Year award recently has been disproportionately won by U.S. vehicles.”
      Simply put that’s a lie, unless you are just looking at ’10 and ’11. In fact the Hyundai Genesis won in 2009.
      Here are the winners of the NACOTY since 2000 (with nominees listed below the winners – certainly foreign nameplates have been in the game as nominees). Of the eleven cars that won, five were from foreign manufacturers. That’s almost half of the recent winners. Even with trucks, a market segment that the US mfgs dominate, of the eleven winners, again five were foreign brands. In only three of those years did American companies sweep both awards. In 2003 (Honda, Volvo) and 2006 (Honda, Honda) both winners were not U.S. vehicles. That’s not even counting the Ford Transit Connect which is assembled in Turkey.

      2000

      Ford Focus
      Audi TT
      Lincoln LS

      Nissan Xterra
      Dodge Dakota
      Toyota Tundra

      2001

      Chrysler PT Cruiser
      Honda Insight
      Toyota Prius

      Acura MDX
      Ford Escape
      Toyota Sequoia

      2002

      Nissan Altima
      Ford Thunderbird
      Cadillac CTS

      Chevrolet TrailBlazer
      Chevrolet Avalanche
      Jeep Liberty

      2003

      MINI Cooper
      Infiniti G35
      Nissan 350Z

      Volvo XC90
      Hummer H2
      Honda Element
      Nissan Murano

      2004

      Toyota Prius
      Mazda RX-8
      Cadillac XLR

      Ford F-150
      Nissan Titan
      Cadillac SRX

      2005

      Chrysler 300
      Chevrolet Corvette
      Ford Mustang

      Ford Escape Hybrid
      Ford Freestyle
      Land Rover LR3

      2006

      Honda Civic
      Ford Fusion
      Pontiac Solstice

      Honda Ridgeline
      Ford Explorer
      Nissan Xterra

      2007

      Saturn Aura
      Toyota Camry
      Honda Fit

      Chevrolet Silverado
      Ford Edge
      Mazda CX-7

      2008

      Chevrolet Malibu
      Cadillac CTS
      Honda Accord

      Mazda CX-9
      Chevy Tahoe Hybrid
      Buick Enclave

      2009

      Hyundai Genesis
      Ford Flex
      Volkswagen Jetta TDI

      Ford F-150
      Dodge Ram
      Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTEC

      2010

      Ford Fusion
      Buick LaCrosse
      Volkswagen Golf/GTI/TDI

      Ford Transit Connect
      Chevrolet Equinox
      Subaru Outback

      2011[2]

      Chevrolet Volt
      Hyundai Sonata
      Nissan Leaf

      Ford Explorer
      Dodge Durango
      Jeep Grand Cherokee

       

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Apparently, Koreans have very short memories, can’t remember more than a year at a time.

      Also, it wasn’t that long ago that Hyundai was a crap car, and the very thought of being in contention for CotY would have been laughable.

  • avatar
    ghentForever

    US and Canadian journalists usually vote for vehicles made by the Big 3.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    What are the criteria for the award? Is the emphasis on radical innovation, public impact (or future impact), relation of form to function, features to cost, styling? Do some of these things carry more weight than others, or is it simply left to the individual voter to decide what’s more relevant?
     
    If there are established, reasonably clear criteria (with a good sense of what weight should be assigned to each), then this is where the argument should rest.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      Here’s a blurb from the award’s website:
       
      “The awards are designed to recognize the most outstanding new vehicles of the year. These vehicles are benchmarks in their segments based on factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.” http://www.northamericancaroftheyear.org/
       
      This is very vague. There’s no sense of what these things actually mean or whether each criterion is weighted differently, given equal weight, and so on. For example, is being a benchmark in “driver satisfaction” more important than being a benchmark in “value for the dollar?” Is “driver satisfaction” supposed to be measured against what the car is supposed to be and do (e.g., it’s function), or could it be reduced to something as silly as how well the seats happen to fit the body style of the driver in question? Is the “value” in “value for the dollar” the importance of a feature, the cost of a feature, the relation of a feature to the vehicle’s function, and so on, and is value to be measured against the cost of research and development, the cost of production, does it take into into account differences in currencies in the cost to production, and so on? Is safety to be measured against the NHTSA or some other ‘public’ ratings system, or is safety reduced to whatever the journalist deems to be most important to him or her?

      Given the list of finalists, it would seem that journalists placed a lot more emphasis on technological innovation this year.
       
      Is there any further clarification of these notions, or are they left deliberately vague?

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      If that’s the criteria, then the scarcity of sales thus far is a non-issue, like the Volt or not.  Considering that the Hyundai Sonata, good a car as it may be, is just a me-too and breaks no real new ground, this seems like sour grapes to me.  It may be true that the NAIAS does lean toward the Big 3, but I’m betting the same event held in Seoul, Korea would lean unsurprisingly Korean, too.  Think the Volt stands a chance in Frankfurt?  Will the Accent win in Tokyo?
      Other than yucking it up in a boardroom, and stickers on ads in the marketing dept…meh.

    • 0 avatar

      Considering that the Hyundai Sonata, good a car as it may be, is just a me-too and breaks no real new ground…”

      All GM did with the Volt was put the electric motor in front of the gas engine, instead of the other way around. Simplistic, I know, but so is your statement. The fact is, the Sonata represents more practical technology… for a better price… to a much, much, much larger market segment… than the Volt.

      The Volt is nothing more than a botique offering — or, as I’ve said before, a science fair project by remedial students.

      If anyone took the NAIAS award seriously, I’d be more upset about the Volt’s winning — but at this point it means even less to the automotive world than Motor Trend’s paid-for opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      So the award isn’t to reward the seller of the most shitboxes?

      Who knew?

    • 0 avatar

      The Volt is nothing more than a botique offering — or, as I’ve said before, a science fair project by remedial students.
      Just wondering, Rob, where did you get your engineering degree? Have you ever invented anything? Developed a product? The engineers and designers working in Detroit are as talented as any in the auto industry.
      While the Volt may or may not turn out to be a boutique (it’s best to not make spelling errors when you’re questioning the intelligence of others) product, that has nothing to do with the skill of the engineers who developed the car. Taken just as a car, without any of the extraneous stuff, the Volt is an impressive bit of engineering.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, first of all… where or when did I claim to be an engineer, or to have any engineering acumen?

      That’s not the point here; the point is that GM claims to be capable of engineering a “game-changing” vehicle. I absolutely do not believe them capable of that, at least not to the level of hype surrounding the Volt. Look what’s already been proven false, and/or an outright lie.

      230 MPG? Nope. The engine never drives the wheels directly? Not so much. I’m pretty sure Hyundai never lied about the Sonata’s capabilites.

      The engineers and designers working in Detroit are as talented as any in the auto industry.

      Is that why nearly every GM offering over the past five years has been sourced from Australia, Germany or South Korea?

      Taken just as a car, without any of the extraneous stuff, the Volt is an impressive bit of engineering.

      Yeah… no. Given GM’s wonderful and impressive history of “innovation” — Vega, V8-6-4, Dexcool, GMT900 fenders with Reynolds-grade dent resistance — I fully expect Volts to start catching fire before too long. I do expect the flames will be quite impressive.

      Anyway, back to the original point — the Sonata would have been the most relevant NAIAS choice because it is an innovative, efficient, inexpensive mainstream vehicle with over 200,000 sales in North America this year alone. By comparison, the Volt is indeed a boutique (highly specialized, very limited market) vehicle that will never sell half that number, period.

      Maybe “niche” would have been a better term, though. At least I can spell that.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      All GM did with the Volt was put the electric motor in front of the gas engine, instead of the other way around. Simplistic, I know, but so is your statement. The fact is, the Sonata represents more practical technology… for a better price… to a much, much, much larger market segment… than the Volt.

      So the Sonata being a generic sedan should make it COTY?  Actually, the Volt falls right in line with the selections for this award.  Last year, the Ford Transit Connect won truck of the year.  Not exactly a huge market it is serving.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      That’s not the point here; the point is that GM claims to be capable of engineering a “game-changing” vehicle. I absolutely do not believe them capable of that, at least not to the level of hype surrounding the Volt. Look what’s already been proven false, and/or an outright lie.
      230 MPG? Nope. The engine never drives the wheels directly? Not so much. I’m pretty sure Hyundai never lied about the Sonata’s capabilites.

      Are those engineering problems or marketing and management problems?

      Is that why nearly every GM offering over the past five years has been sourced from Australia, Germany or South Korea?

      GM is a global company.  It wouldn’t make sense to have every design made by US engineers.  GM DAT specializes in the small cars.  Holden does a lot of RWD platforms.  Opel does midsize cars.  Detroit does CUV, SUVs and trucks.  Would it make sense to have every market design its own?  I guess because the engineers in Detroit don’t do as many cars, there is a problem?  Many of them were involved with the Volt, it will be interesting to see how it goes.

      Yeah… no. Given GM’s wonderful and impressive history of “innovation” — Vega, V8-6-4, Dexcool, GMT900 fenders with Reynolds-grade dent resistance — I fully expect Volts to start catching fire before too long. I do expect the flames will be quite impressive.

      ha ha.  Maybe we could talk about Honda transmissions, or FJ Cruisers fenders or how the Vega was a GM management problem, they didn’t listen to the engineers.  We could go on and on about lots of manufactures past for 30 or 40 years ago.  Doesn’t mean the Volt would be good or bad… or catch fire.

      Anyway, back to the original point — the Sonata would have been the most relevant NAIAS choice because it is an innovative, efficient, inexpensive mainstream vehicle with over 200,000 sales in North America this year alone. By comparison, the Volt is indeed a boutique (highly specialized, very limited market) vehicle that will never sell half that number, period.

      COTY and TOTY have never been about volume.  The Sonata is not innovative.  It is another sedan in the cut throat market of sedans.  Hyundai should get COTY because it caught up to the sedan market?  Not so much.  I would think the Leaf would get COTY before the Sonata.  I expect it to have pretty poor sales numbers as well.

    • 0 avatar

      I guess the end lesson here is that some of us have very high standards for recognition.

      And others do not… preferring instead the dazzle of “what’s new!”
       
      Let’s give the Volt some time to prove itself in the real world. If it’s a popular and reliable vehicle — like the Sonata — a year from now, minus any recalls for battery fires (or any multitude of other problems from GM’s “remedial” bag of tricks) maybe then I’d reconsider its worth for recognition. For now, it’s just another GM crapbox.

    • 0 avatar

      The criteria are probably pecuniary and political. I’d say COTYs are fairly meaningless.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    GM’s headquarters is about 2 blocks down the road from the North American International Auto Show, where the award was announced.  Real shocking…  :)

    • 0 avatar

      It’s 6600 miles from Detroit to Seoul. How come the Hyundai Genesis won in 2009?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Because the Genesis is a remarkable, peerless, practically game-changing car that was (and still is) head-and-shoulders above the rest of the segment.   Like the Volt.  Or the Leaf.  Or the Equus, even.
       
      Let’s flip this to “Why didn’t the Sonata win”: it’s not particularly remarkable, and not appreciably better or worse than it’s competition.  You don’t give _____ of the Year awards to a product that’s simply one competent product among many.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      Peerless? Genesis is the progeny of a workaholic blue-collar Father, and a dirt-poor, socially-climbing Mother. It has been thrown into the white-collar world, but will never be given a chance because it is first-generation. It may be true that Genesis studied at university– but that university was public. Sales have shown us that the world isn’t quite ready for Genesis jelly.
       
      I’m reminded of Bobbie Gentry’s Southern-Gothic classic: “Here’s your one chance, Fancy– don’t let me down.” Not in that Hyundai are down-trodden and desperate– but more that Hyundai are the whores of carbylon. “I can look like that– and I’m easier” is the Genesis’ opening line– and no respectable person wants what is so easily-attained.  With Genesis, they did nothing more than re-package others’ wares and sell them at razor-thin margins.
       
      I guess we can call this the “leading-follower” award? It seems to only be given to the freest-spending, established upstart types– not the true revolutionaries.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Ronnie has already debunked the basic premise of this article with good old fashioned cold, hard facts. Any further debate on the topic is really rather embarrassing and revealing at the same time.

  • avatar
    John R

    While I would not be surprised to see Motor City “journalists” vote for a Detroit car I seem to remember the Genesis sedan winning that award a couple of years ago…maybe it was something else….

  • avatar
    charly

    That the Volt won against all odds doesn’t surprise the paper

    Against all odds? This was as surprising as Russia getting the world championship

  • avatar
    lmike51b

    C.O.T.Y or not.  Still doesn’t make me want one.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    There is a big difference in a technological success and a sales success.  Think of the Concorde (aircraft, NOT car).  An amazing piece of technology for its time.  Also, a financial failure.  The Volt may fall into that trap, at least until the cost comes down.  From a technological point of view, the Volt is a beautiful piece of engineering.  Many forget this either because of the cost, brand bias, or dislike of anything that smacks of “green”.  Or, of course, they may be afraid to be GM’s beta testers again.  At least that concern is legitimate.  The Volt is an impressive piece and it does warrant the award.  It surly fails on value for the dollar, but so does any Land Rover product.  Would I buy one?  No, because an appliance, no matter how impressive, must return value for the dollar.  This car does not make economic sense for me; a hybrid would – and does – better suit my commute.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The Concorde served as a technological harbinger, and now all commercial airliners are supersonic. It proved to be far more important than its contemporary, the Boeing 747. The Volt could well prove to match the Concorde’s impact.

    • 0 avatar

      Dear God, please tell me CJ is being sarcastic.

    • 0 avatar
      Contrarian

      Actually, no commercial jetliners are supersonic that I’m aware of. The fly at about the same speeds that they did in the 1960s. (Or did I miss a </sarc> )

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      Considering the 747 was supposed to be an obsolete relic relegated to cargo hauling and supersonic was the future of passenger transport…
      Wonderful work CJinSD.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      Rob & Cont. You really need your sarcasm detectors recalibrated.  I know it can be difficult in text sometimes, but when someone says something so obviously false as though it’s true, that’s sarcasm.  Everyone knows there are no supersonic airliners (despite the inaptly named basketball team)

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      We were recently looking at aircraft for business purposes, and the fastest passenger plane we found was the new G 650 at mach .9. Anyone know of a faster one?
      Many consider the 747 to be the finest commercial aircraft ever built.

    • 0 avatar

      Carve, I’ll grant your premise in this case… though in my experience in the aviation field, most groundhogs are woefully misinformed about aircraft types, etc. That’s why every small plane crash involves a “Cessna,” and each airline report has an A380 photo attached to it.

      In other words, it usually pays to assume most don’t know what they’re talking about.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Was my comment really so nuanced as to require its meaning to be explained?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      So, if you are implying that the impact of the Volt will likely mirror that of the Concorde, fair enough.  Still, the point is irrelevant as far as the justification for the Volt to take the award.  Sales  volume is not part of the criteria.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Look, nice as the Sonata is it doesn’t really change the game much.  It’s a good car, but so are the three or four other cars in the segment it competes with.  Giving the Sonata “Car of the Year” would have been like giving it to the Altima in 2003, or the previous Sonata in 2005.  “Car of the Year” shouldn’t be a stand-in for “Most Improved”, not when the Camry and Accord sell more and there’s three other good cars (the Altima—which Consumer Reports and others rate above the Sonata—Fusion and Malibu) in the hunt.
     
    I mean, the Equus, sure, or the Genesis the year before, but the Sonata, quite frankly, isn’t that good.  It’s the same reason, eg, the Regal doesn’t deserve COTY.
     
    Note that this really has very little to do with whether or not you think the Volt, Leaf or whatever is a worthwhile endeavour.  Both cars do change the game, as does Hyundai’s own Equus.  Complaining that the Volt doesn’t sell many units versus the Sonata is kind of red herring: were that the benchmark, the F-150 would be Car of the Year every year running.
     
    Sour grapes, really.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      ETA.  I see that the Altima did win one year.  As did the Malibu, Fusion and Aura.
       
      I don’t take back what I said about the Sonata, but given past winners were equally milquetoast perhaps the Koreans do have a point: either the award should honour cars that are revolutionary, or cars that are good and new that year.  Otherwise this is another meaningless, advertiser-driven award amongst many.

  • avatar
    william442

    “Refigured” Sure looks like my old employer is up to its old tricks.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I actually thought Volt sales were over 1000, but I’ll leave the actual numbers to the experts….

    In previous posts I said I thought the Sonata should get COTY, but I think I’m changing my mind to the Leaf.  It’s more of a game-changer than the Volt (which is a fancy GM hybrid), being the first true EV in a century, and with the first year’s production sold out.  Every other contender still uses gasoline.

    • 0 avatar
      SkiD666

      As of Dec. 31, 2010 – GM has built 1,219 Volts.

      We can probably assume that every Volt produced is technically ‘Sold’ for the foreseeable future, but there have only been 326 deliveries to the end of December.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    So a Korean newspaper is crying foul saying that a American car won the award.  They are saying a Korean car should have won.  Pot calling the kettle black IMHO.
     
    Honestly though, sales are not a metric for the award.  Just has to be new for 2010.  Not that the Volt would have sold any where near the number of cars that the Sonata did, but the Sonata was released much earlier in the year.  It is going to sell a lot more cars than anything released at the time of the Volt was.

  • avatar

    Is it possible that the Chosun Ilbo is less classy in “defeat” than the Detroit Free Press? and the Detroit News? Because I’m not sure I would have called that…

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    So what’s the Korean Car of the Year?

  • avatar
    bufguy

    Another anti GM article documenting a Korean writer…Get over it Ford won for the Explorer!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Since when does a Toyota copy win COTY? Korean press & Hyundai, Shut Up! You deserve nothing. The Sonata stinks, too. I drove one.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    How many US nameplate vehicles have won any awards in Korea?

    Crickets.
     

  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    Next you’ll be telling me the Academy Awards don’t always go to the most worthy recipient!

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I find it disgraceful that a wanna be Honda Accord/Toyota Camry like the Kia Sonata was even in the same company with the Volt for the award. 

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Ehem, hasn’t Nissan lost about 1/3 of their Leaf pre-orders because urban apartment and condo buyers are coming to the realization that it is impossible for them to get 240V and can’t even find a 110V outlet for charging (both here and in mother Japan).  Haven’t they delivered something like 20 Leaf’s because of a bevy of launch issues that Nissan is keeping very quiet about?
     
    Old Korean saying, one should not throw rocks at rice paper houses.

  • avatar
    obbop

    I feel an urge, an inner compulsion, to initiate some form of award to commemorate improvements and advances in the design and/or operations of dumpsters since I remain convinced a growing horde of economically disadvantaged USA denizens will be clambering into those holders of life-saving and sustaining comestibles.
    http://www.westerndisposal.com/commercial-services/consulting-services/
     
    http://www.nuwavecontainer.com/methodology  (Made in the USA!!!!!!!!!!)
     
    Miss Dumpster Diver USA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    http://tinyurl.com/4wc2re5
     

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Dumpsters? They have dumpsters in the Ozarks??!
    Three hundred (or fewer; remember, this is GM-style counting) sales? I suspect my previous snark about the VOLT being no longer vaporware was premature. I’ll bet GM loses more Chevys than that in a year.

  • avatar

    The Leaf, the Volt and the Sonata were all worthy candidates. We’ve all overthought the validity of the award already. The Volt was a perfectly valid choice even if it wasn’t the perfect choice. It is the first mass-produced plug-in hybrid car to be sold in North America. Period. That’s reason enough to win a trophy. All the other arguments will be settled in the marketplace. As far as that’s concerned, we all know that the Sonata is winning big so far…


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