It has been nearly 23 years since the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) awards were initiated. Judged by about 60 independent automotive journalists from the United States and Canada, these awards honor excellence in vehicle innovation, design, safety performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value.
A lot has changed in this industry since 1994, including an explosion of cross-overs and utility vehicles in the market. To recognize this change, as of 2017 a new category of Utility Vehicle of the Year has been added to the judging.
With design being one of the critical parameters used to critique the vehicles in this and many other competitions, retired General Motors Global Design Chief Ed Welburn noted that the “look” of many of the industry awards often don’t live up to the prestige of the honor they bestow. So, at a recent Automotive Press Association (APA) luncheon, Welburn unveiled his new trophy for the NACTOY Awards — a stylized, streamlined car with an elongated hood and tail fins, reflecting a compendium of past and future designs.
Cast in a gold metallic finish, Welburn noted that “if the Academy Awards’ Oscar had a car, this would be it.”
Designing for User Experience
The updating of the NACTOY awards is a good example of how designers need to create experiences, rather than just stand-alone products. It might be an honor for these car designers and engineers to be recognized for an outstanding vehicle. But, if the award is something less than elegant, the impact of the experience might seem lessened, whereas if the award is lovely it will be put on display as a constant reminder of this victory. This is a philosophy behind Dassault Systemes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform. All products must be designed in conjunction with the environment in which they will be used and in consideration of how the consumer will interact within this environment. Dassault Systèmes’ DESIGNStudio focuses on helping companies transform their innovation process to create a digital culture focused on the user experience.
Vehicles Vying for the Honor
The finalists for this year’s NACTOY categories include the Chevrolet Bolt, Genesis G90 and VolvoS90 for Car of the Year; the Ford F-Series Super Duty, Honda Ridgeline and Nissan Titan for Truck of the Year; and the Chrysler Pacifica, Jaguar F-Page and Mazda CX-9 for Utility Vehicle of the Year. The majority of these vehicles have been designed in Dassault Systèmes’ CATIA product development software delivered on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. The winners will be announced on the opening day of the North American International Auto Show on January 9.