Ford Fusion, Hyundai CEO honored at MIT

By Bill Griffith
May 14, 2012
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There are awards and then there are AWARDS.

Last year, when the folks at WheelsTV made their Previously OwnedVehicle of the year (POV) presentation at MIT, the sheer size of the award was stunning.

The chosen vehicle was the Ford Fusion, and WheelsTV CEO Jim Barisano came up with a 17-inch ModelT steering wheel mounted on a trophy base as an award.

Accepting the award was Bill Collins, director of Ford’s East Region communications office.The size of the award necessitated that it get shipped home instead of going back on the plane with him.

Ford was back at MIT this week, accepting another award for the Fusion, this one for the redesigned 2013 edition.

The new Fusion, which has received much critical acclaim for its new look and Aston Martin-type grill, was named winner of the New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA) Ritvo Award for style and elegance.

The award is named for longtime NEMPA member Gene Ritvo, an accomplished photographer and videographer who was known widely in automotive and community circles for his eye for style and grace.

Chief designer Chris Hamilton received the prize.“It is an honor to accept this award on behalf of the team behind the all-new Ford Fusion,”he says.“The Fusion is the new face of Ford going forward for the next generation.

We think it’s going to both satisfy and surprise our existing customers.The 2013 Fusion has a revolutionary design that puts an accent on elegance: It has a sophisticated feel and a sleek profile, setting it apart from the traditional midsize sedans.”

A panel of judges from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline chose the Fusion.

The presentation was made Friday night at NEMPA’s annual meeting and awards dinner at the faculty club of MIT’s Sloan School of Management and followed an afternoon symposium at MIT that previewed the coming Autonomous Car with panelists from BMW, Continental, General Motors, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and MIT.

John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai, picked up two awards during the ceremonies.

Hyundai received the Yankee Technology Cup for the company’s direct injection engine technology.The award were presented by MIT and NEMPA.

Krafcik also was honored for his achievements in the industry as a native New Englander (he grew up in Southington, CT). A graduate of MIT’s Sloan School of Management, he had successful careers at NUMMI (a GM/Toyota collaboration) and Ford before moving to Hyundai.

Other awards were:

•Industry consultant Pierre Kanter received the Camel’s Back Award, presented annually

to an industry person who has gone the extra mile many times himself.

•Martyn L. Schorr gained a lifetime achievement award for his service at a number of automakers, including GM’s Buick division, and as a magazine editor and owner of Performance Media Public Relations (PMPR).

Meanwhile,WheelsTV’s Barisano was at it again, coming up with another antique steering wheel award, this from a late ’30s Chevrolet truck, which was presented to General Motors representatives after the Chevrolet Silverado was named this year’s previously owned vehicle winner.

The finalists and overall winner were selected by a panel ofWheelsTV analysts and members of the New England Motor Press Association.The 11 voters included Collin Davis, WheelsTV’s chief technology officer, who joined from Los Angeles via videoconference.

It was interesting to be part of the process. Nominations were taken from the floor in each of six categories followed by a discussion of the merits of the vehicles in question.

Voting came up with the following category winners: Toyota Camry (family sedan),Toyota Highlander (SUV/crossover); Mazda3 (small car); Mazda Miata (sporty car); Chevrolet Silverado (truck); andToyota Prius (hybrid).

Interestingly, the Silverado got some early competition in its category when a number of voters were in favor of the phased-out Ford Ranger, still an excellent used vehicle in the vanishing small truck category.

10 Underappreciated Vehicles

One of the downers in buying a new car is having several of your neighbors come home with the same model. One way to avoid that may be to buy one of the 10 vehicles on’s Underappreciated Vehicles List. Give them credit for getting this one 100 percent right.

Ford Flex: A seven-seat gem that is outsold five-to-one by the Ford Explorer.

Suzuki Kizashi: A fun-to-drive sedan that has a stunningly high quality interior.

Mazdas (all models): Fun rides and just as good as the competition.

Kia Optima: Handsome exterior, quality interior, and generous standard equipment.

Hyundai Genesis: It was tops when introduced in 2009 and has only improved since.

Nissan Quest: The new, competitive, high-quality Quest has to build a name for itself.

Dodge Challenger: Roomier and far more comfortable than virtually all of its direct, better-selling competitors.

Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen: A surprisingly versatile, fun car that beats many of its trendy crossover competitors.

Chevrolet Avalanche: It does the work, serves as a five-seat SUV or full-length pickup truck; a trusted truck brand.

Chevrolet Volt: Though GM’s sales expectations were too high, theVolt definitely deserves more success than it’s seen.

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