European brands swept the North American Concept Car of the Year awards, which were presented in Dearborn, Mich., on Monday.
Lotus, Jaguar and Volkswagen won with strong designs that suggest new directions for the two British brands and a retro minivan from VW.
The Jaguar C-X75 took two awards, including the top for most significant concept of 2011. The C-X75 concept boasts a pair of micro turbines and an extended-range electric drivetrain. The Jag also won the award for the best concept among cars.
"The Jaguar C-X75 is one of the most visually arresting cars ever. Call it aggressive elegance," juror Chris Poole said.
Jaguar recently said it will build a version of the C-X75, though the production model won't get the advanced turbines.
The award for the best production preview, or the concept the jurors expected to reach production -- nobody thought Jag would build the far-out C-X75 -- went to the sporty Lotus Eterne sedan, which shows how the British sports car specialist hopes to expand its brand.
"I love seeing a four-door Lotus," said juror Paul Abelson. "It's about time. The lines on the car are absolutely breathtaking."
VW's throwback Bulli minivan won the award for best truck concept.
"Volkswagen takes us back to the 1950s with a modern-day Microbus," said juror Bob Kroupa. "The styling cues are unmistakable. With 21st-century technology and powered by an electric hybrid drivetrain, this model could become a real winner."
About two dozen automotive journalists from across North America vote on the awards, which are open to concept vehicles displayed over the last year at auto shows in Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Toronto.
Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan is a member of the jury and presented the awards at the Automotive Hall of Fame on Monday.
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