General Motors claimed the top prize in both the car and truck categories at the North American International Auto Show today.
The company's redesigned Chevrolet Corvette Stingray was named 2014 North American car of the year by a jury of automotive writers, while its redesigned full-size Chevrolet Silverado pickup was named 2014 North American truck/utility of the year.
It was the first time in GM's history that it won both awards in the same year and comes just days before GM is scheduled to make history in another way - on Wednesday, Mary Barra, head of the global product development group, Will replace Dan Akerson as CEO, becoming the first-ever female chief of a global automaker.
The award for the Silverado is likely to be welcome after, the company said it was recalling about 370,000 pickups, including some of the redesigned Silverados, to reprogram software that could cause parts of the exhaust to overheat and lead to fire.
GM said eight fires had been caused by the problem, but there were no injuries. The company said all of the fires had occurred in very cold places, and it urged customers to avoid leaving trucks idling unattended.
Elsewhere at the auto show green cars, such as electric vehicles, hybrids and hydrogen fuel cells, are being overshadowed by sports cars, in a broad spectrum of sizes, shapes and price segments, from Ford Motor's redesigned 2015 Mustang to Kia Motors' zippy GT4 Stinger concept.
"Sex sells. Speed sells," said Michael Tracy, principal at Michigan-based consultancy the Agile Group. "People don't talk about wanting to buy a Camaro because the base V6 gets great mileage."
But performance cars are simultaneously becoming greener, like the new Mustang, which this fall will offer buyers the choice of a 420-horsepower 5.0-litre V8 or an economical 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that still delivers 305 horsepower.
"We're seeing a new era of performance cars that are very safe, very fuel-efficient and more mainstream," said industry consultant Lincoln Merrihew, of Millward Brown Digital.
While performance is still the major selling point of cars at the show, power boosting devices such as turbo chargers are allowing engines to get smaller to improve efficiency without trading off speed.
Kia's GT4 Stinger, a compact, low-slung four-passenger model fitted with a 315-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that hints at a future rear-wheel-drive performance model from the Korean manufacturer is a perfect example of the new generation of performance cars.
Even makers of traditional sports cars are reducing weight – GM engineers shaved mass from the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 muscle car by using a smaller battery and thinner rear glass, as well as eliminating the trunk carpet and the tire-inflator kit.
BMW says its redesigned 2015 M3 sedan, which reaches U.S. dealers in early summer, has shed 175 pounds, in part by using more aluminum and carbon fibre-reinforced plastic in place of heavier steel and by switching from a normally aspirated 4.0-liter V8 to a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine.
The smaller engine makes more power and, with the weight reduction, enables faster acceleration, while boosting fuel economy by 25 per cent and lowering emissions by the same amount.