General Motors (GM) has swept the coveted awards handed out each year at the start of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, claiming the top prize in the car and truck categories.
The company's redesigned Chevrolet Corvette Stingray was named North American car of the year yesterday by a jury of car writers, while its redesigned, full-size Chevrolet Silverado pickup was named 2014 North American truck or utility of the year.
It is the first time that GM has won both awards in the same year.
The recognition of the Silverado also comes at a good time for GM.
Last week, 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 cold places, and it urged customers to avoid leaving trucks idling unattended.
Finalists for car of the year included the Cadillac CTS and the Mazda3.
Truck or utility of the year finalists included the Acura MDX and the Jeep Cherokee.
The milestone came days before GM was scheduled to make history in another way: tomorrow, Mary Barra, head of the $15 billion (R160bn) global product development group, will replace Dan Akerson as chief executive, becoming the first woman chief of a global vehicle maker.
The incoming chief executive of GM hopes her appointment will inspire young women and men to pursue careers in science.
Barra, 52, led the truck-unveiling ceremony.
Asked about being an inspiration to women, Barra said she hoped her engineering credentials made her a role model for young people.
"With my technical background - I'm an electrical engineer - I can motivate young women or young men to pursue a career in science," she said.
Barra joined GM at age 18 as a student, working for several months at a time in GM's Pontiac division while studying for her engineering degree at the General Motors Institute - a Flint, Michigan, college then owned by the company.
She graduated from GMI, now Kettering University, in 1985, and GM eventually sent her to Stanford University to earn an MBA.
She rotated through a number of jobs, including being executive assistant to then-chief executive Jack Smith. She headed midsize car engineering and managed GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant.
After GM's 2009 bankruptcy, then-chief executive Ed Whitacre put her in charge of human resources. GM had to keep talented people from jumping ship so it had bench strength to recover. Few people left.
In 2011, Akerson plucked Barra from HR to run GM's huge worldwide product development, an operation he says was in chaos at the time.
During her tenure, GM rolled out many new products, including the acclaimed Chevrolet Impala big car.
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Original headline: GM sweeps the boards
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