When future automotive historians look back on 2011, I think they’ll mark this year as the beginning of the end of the automotive industry as we know it today. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is entirely based on your perspective, but one thing is certain: over the next five years, cars will get smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient and won’t be powered by gasoline alone. Automakers have no choice if they’re going to reach the level of fuel economy mandated by CAFE standards set to take effect in 2016, and cars like the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf are important first steps down a new automotive path.
At next month’s Detroit Auto Show, the 2011 Car of the Year and Truck of the Year will be announced. The list of candidate cars included the Audi A8, the Buick Regal, the Chevy Cruze, the Chevy Volt, the Ford Fiesta, the Hyundai Sonata, the Infiniti M37 and M56, the Jaguar XJ, the Kia Optima, the Mazda 2, the Nissan Juke, the Nissan Leaf, the VW Jetta and the Volvo S60. Three finalists were chosen from this list, and the choices certainly reflect the changes in the industry. The 2011 North American Car of the Year will either be the Chevy Volt, the Nissan Leaf or the Hyundai Sonata.
On the truck side, the original choices were the Dodge Durango, the Ford Edge, the Ford Explorer, the Honda Odyssey, the Hyundai Tucson, the Infiniti QX56, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Kia Sorento, the Kia Sportage, the Lincoln MKX, the Mercedes-Benz R Class, the Porsche Cayenne, the Toyota Sienna or the Volkswagen Touareg. The three finalists are the Dodge Durango, the Ford Explorer and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
I’ll go out on a limb and guess that the winners will be the Chevy Volt and the Ford Explorer, simply because they both represent the vehicles with the most substantial changes in this model year. It really does make me wonder what cars will be like in just five or ten years. I know they’ll be more fuel efficient and more technologically advanced, but I just hope they remain entertaining to drive.
Source: In Auto News