2010 ICOTY & IMOTY Awards announced

Though the 2010 ICOTY & IMOTY titles have been announced almost a month back, constant traveling at the beginning of the year kept me extremely busy to post it on time. Nevertheless, it's an important event which couldn't be left out without posting either.

Modeled along the likes of the North American, European and Japanese Car of the Year awards, all the major automotive publications in the country, along with JK Tyre have instituted these awards which is now recognized in the international level. Now in it's fifth year of running, the 2010 Indian Car of the Year (ICOTY) and Indian Motorcycle of the Year (IMOTY) award-winners have been announced. No surprises in both the categories, as Tata Nano and the Kawasaki Ninja 250R have been selected for the top honors in the country. It's ironical to know the fact that the title-winning bike is costlier than the car selected for the title. In fact, you can get two Tata Nanos for the price of a Kawasaki Ninja 250R.
Tata's diminutive Nano has been on a spree of winning awards including Car of the Year awards from individual automotive publications like Autocar India, Overdrive and the like. The Nano is the height of Indian innovation and by developing this automotive icon, Tata has made the world to crane and look towards Indian engineering. Production constraints apart, there is absolutely no reason why the Nano will not succeed in the domestic level though I am skeptical about it's success in the international arena. (Pic Courtesy: Overdrive)

When Bajaj introduced the Kawasaki Ninja 250R in India, it presented Indians with a gift which they have not received before - "Affordable Sports Biking". Though people with very deep pockets had their choice when it came to sports bikes (Hayabusa, R1, etc.), others were forced to settle for something from the crowded 150cc segment or the monopolized 220cc segment. Hope Bajaj lives up to the hype created by the bike and does not discontinue this bike within months of launching it in the market like it does for most other models.


Ford Figo undergoing final rounds of Testing

It's raining news about Ford now. Till very recently, it seemed as if Ford and GM have exchanged their jobs in India from what is happening in the USA. When GM India was on a spree of launching attractive models one by one at competitive prices (Captiva, Cruze and Beat), Ford was in it's dormant best with no new models to boast of. This is just quite opposite to what's happening in USA (and rest of the world) where Ford is staging an amazing comeback.

Ford finally broke the shackles and woke up from it's slumber when it's CEO Mr. Alan Mulally himself unveiled the company's new big hope in India - the Figo hatchback. Though the Figo (and Ford) missed the limelight at this year's Delhi Auto Expo, it seems that Figo is getting ready to be launched very soon in the market. A friend of mine happened to spot a fleet of Figo test mules being tested in NH45. From the snaps, it's quite obvious that these are almost 99% production ready cars undergoing some final rounds of testing and tweaking before its let out in the market.

Meanwhile automotive media have already driven the hatch and have come out with good, positive reviews. Ford fans, rejoice. The Figo is here finally !!!


Ford sweeps 2010 North American Car & Truck of the Year Awards

Ford, the American giant which is on a stunning comeback trail across the world, has made a clean sweep of the 2010 North American Car & Truck of the Year Awards with it's Fusion Hybrid and Transit Connect taking home the titles respectively. Earlier, Honda in 2006 and General Motors in 2007 had won both the titles and this is the third time in the 17-year history of the awards that a single manufacturer becomes the recipient of both the titles.

Of the three car finalists, Ford Fusion Hybrid scored 241 points leaving behind the Volkswagen Golf/TDI/GTI (146 points) and the Buick LaCrosse (103 points). One of the jurors summed up the verdict as "Though not the first hybrid on the market, or even the second or third, The Fusion Hybrid is simply the best one ever built. In addition to delivering terrific mileage, it looks and drives like a regular car - and a very good one indeed."

Amongst the truck finalists, Ford's Transit Connect had 213 points followed by the Chevrolet Equinox (183 points) and the Subaru Outback (94 points). Jim Mateja, of the Chicago Tribune, said "A U-Haul that fits in your garage. Holds people and soooo much of their stuff - bikes, snowmobiles, lawn movers, skis, tents, boats, ladders, furniture, you name it. Defines multi-purpose and boasts a reasonable price even when you add side and rear windows and back seat."

The fact is that both are worthy winners from a deserving manufacturer which is doing almost everything right at the moment. Last year, the North American Car of the Year was the Hyundai Genesis and North American Truck of the Year was Ford F-150. My guess on the title winners turned out to be partially correct with the Fusion Hybrid hitting the bull's eye and the Chevrolet Equinox failing to make the cut.