General Motors has swept top honors at the Detroit auto show Monday as the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray won Car of the Year honors while the Chevrolet Silverado took the Truck of the Year award.
The awards, announced Monday, are another sign of a comeback for the automaker. This is the first time the Chevrolet brand has ever won both awards and the first GM sweep since 2007, when the Saturn Aura and Chevrolet Silverado won. The last sweep of both awards was in 2010 when Ford Motor's Transit Connect and Fusion Hybrid won.
For car sales, the importance of awards like these has grown. These two awards in particular, chosen by a panel of 48 auto critics, are among the most influential.
The 2014 Corvette Stingray has a higher-quality interior than past models and, with its 455 horsepower V8, it has better performance than any base-Corvette before it. It also has better fuel economy and a price tag that, at $51,000 to start, is far lower than other cars with similar capabilities.
The Chevrolet Silverado is an all-new truck for GM in a hotly competitive full-size truck market. One of the biggest selling points, besides the truck's improved ride and interior quality, is its fuel economy. A base V8-powered 2014 Silverado gets an EPA-estimated 19 miles per gallon overall. Not only is that better than last year's Silverado it's also better than the Ford F-150 powered by the heavily marketed EcoBoost V6.
The Silverado is of far greater importance to GM than a niche performance car like the Corvette Stingray.
GM sold 480,000 Silverados in the United States in 2013, up 15% from a year earlier. But that was actually less than the 23% growth in industrywide sales of full-size pick-ups during the year.
But those sales made the Silverado GM's best-selling U.S. vehicle, with nearly twice the sales of the Chevy Cruze compact car, which was No. 2 in GM's U.S. sales. And GM says the average transaction price of a new Silverado was $5,000 above what consumers were paying for the previous model.
But the Silverado's sales trail far behind the leader in the segment, the Ford F-150. Monday Ford introduced a new version of the F-150, which makes far greater use of aluminum to cut weight and improve fuel economy, likely far above Silverado's miles per gallon.
The Corvette Stingray has been well received by critics, also having won Automobile of the Year honors from Automobile Magazine. While these awards could give a nice lift to the Corvette Stingray, it won't ever be a major vehicle for the automaker. Chevy sold only 17,000 Corvettes in 2013.
The Corvette wasn't even as important as another GM vehicle that was among the three finalists for the Car of the Year award, the Cadillac CTS, which sold 32,000 vehicles, and has stronger sales overseas.
Asked if she was pulling for one car over the other to win, Mary Barra, the head of product development who becomes GM's new CEO on Wednesday said, "I'm so proud of each car and I think they play such an important role whether it's for Cadillac or Chevrolet."
The other car in the list of finalists was the Mazda3. The other trucks were the Acura MDX and the Jeep Cherokee.