With just five weeks remaining before the Detroit auto show, the North American Car of the Year awards program has announced the finalists in the overall car and truck/utility categories.
The list has caused a bit of a stir in some quarters, thanks to the limited presence of Detroit-based vehicles.
The top three finalists for North American Car of the Year are the Mazda MX-5, the Chevrolet Malibu and the Honda Civic.
On the truck/utility side of things, the Honda Pilot, Nissan Titan XD and Volvo XC90 are the top three.
Of the group, only one, the Chevrolet Malibu, is what could be considered a traditional domestic model, being built in Chevrolet’s Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas. That does not mean however that North American vehicles have been shut out otherwise.
Honda’s Alliston, Ont., manufacturing plant is the lead production facility for the new Civic, which means that all plants around the globe follow its processes. Civic is also built in Greensburg, Ind.
Nissan’s Titan XD pickup has been created from the ground up in the United States, having been designed in California. Engineering took place in Michigan and the truck is being built in Mississippi.
The jury, which judges the North American Car of the Year program, consists of 57 journalists from across the continent, including Wheels’ own Jim Kenzie. Their duty is to rate new vehicles on innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.
The country of origin in no way factors into the scoring.
May the best model win, regardless of where it comes from!
RELATED: AJAC announces 2015 Canadian Car Of The Year winners
Nissan Canada president name to lead North American sales team Christian Meunier, currently president of Nissan Canada Inc., has been appointed senior vice president, Nissan Sales & Marketing and Operations, Nissan North America. He also will hold the title of chairman, Nissan Canada.
In his new role, Meunier will be responsible for all sales, marketing communications, model line brand management, parts and service, product planning and dealer network development — among other things — in the U.S. and Canada.
Over the last three years, Meunier has led the Nissan Canada team to record volume and market share through effective marketing programs and a strengthening of the dealer network.
“Building and leading the Canadian team over the past three years has been one of the most exciting and rewarding challenges of my career, and together we’ve achieved remarkable success,” said Meunier.
With more than 20 years of experience with Renault and Nissan, Joni Paiva has been named president of Nissan Canada. Currently, he is director and chief marketing manager at Nissan North America.
All changes are effective Jan. 1.
Local BMW owners club hosts charity toy drive
One of the best parts of being involved in the car hobby is meeting up with some of the most passionate and charitable people around. Car people love helping people!
The members of BMW TrueNorth do more than just take their prized cars to cruises and show-and-shines. Each year, their events include charity fundraising that culminates in a final drive event to round out the year.
Last year, the organization collected several SUVs full of toys, which were donated to a shelter for single mothers. This year’s event is two-fold, as a cruise is planned for Sunday to pick up donated toys. It will finish up at Pfaff BMW in Mississauga at 12:30 p.m. where the toys will be handed off to the Toys for Tots organization.
Throughout the year, BMW TrueNorth has been fundraising for another cause, which is dear to several of us here at Wheels.
Regular readers may recall a story from earlier this year about 5-year-old Oliver Ferguson, who was named Grand Marshal of the SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Young Ollie suffers from Autoimmune Hepatitis, a condition that causes the body’s immune system to attack the liver, along with a collection of other related conditions.
Ollie and his dad Rob are not only race fans but are specifically BMW fans. The club has been fundraising all year to help the family and will present Ollie with a cheque Sunday at Pfaff BMW.
To find out how to join the cruise, visit www.bmwtn.ca
Bill 152 aims to streamline licensing process for dealers
During my years working in car dealerships, I heard many consumers wonder why it takes so long for a dealer to get the registration and licensing for a new or used car completed.
The explanation is really quite simple: dealers have to deal with the same lineups at the licence office that you and I do.
You may notice that most of them have a separate line for dealers, where staff arrive and drop off paperwork without having to wait in line. That is because they are just dropping off. Then, dealership staff may wait all day for the call to say that the licensing is complete.
Given that many Service Ontario locations are independently owned, this system makes absolutely no sense. Dealers should be able to do their own registration and licensing.
Thanks to three car dealers in the Brockville area, and Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark, it may just happen.
On Dec. 3, Clark introduced Bill 152, called the Cutting Red Tape for Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, 2015. It passed second reading and now will go to committee.
The bill would change the Highway Traffic Act to allow car dealers to apply for a permit, number plates or a validation for a vehicle, apply for a new permit for a vehicle, or apply for a used vehicle information package.
Supported by the Trillium Automobile Dealer’s Association, the proposed changes would do more than just speed up processing time for dealers. By removing paperwork from Service Ontario locations, there is potential to reduce wait times for other motorists.
Quebec dealers are already using a similar system and a pilot project has been in operation at two Ontario dealerships since 2011, meaning that full implementation should be painless.
Freelance writer Gary Grant is a regular contributor to Toronto Star Wheels. To reach him, email [email protected] and put his name in the subject line.