PONTIAC, Mich. — Electric vehicles took two of three categories for the first time in this year's North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year awards.
Ford's F-150 Lightning electric pickup won the truck category, while Kia's EV6 battery-powered EV was named the top SUV. The Integra, a small sedan from Honda's Acura performance brand, won car of the year.
Six of the nine finalists were powered by batteries, and analysts say the more of the awards are likely to go to electric vehicles in the future as the industry spends billions to roll out multiple new EV models.
Fifty automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada are judges for the three awards, which are announced every January. They’re chosen from dozens of candidates and must be new or substantially changed for the current model year. Automakers often use the awards in advertising.
The judges evaluate finalists on innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction, user experience and value. The selection process started last summer.
In addition to the Integra, finalists for the car of the year included the Genesis G80 electric sedan, and the Nissan Z sports car.
The Lightning's finalist competitors were the Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 off-road pickup and the Lordstown Motors Endurance electric commercial pickup.
Utility vehicle finalists included the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV and the Genesis GV60 electric SUV.
The awards come as the U.S. moves away from traditional gas-powered vehicles and towards electric infrastructure.
All 50 states received final approval last year to begin construction on a first nationwide network of EV charging stations that places one roughly every 50 miles (80 kilometers) along interstate highways, part of the Biden administration's plan to spur widespread adoption of zero-emission cars.
Construction of new EV charging locations could begin by spring 2023.