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 DETROIT, Jan. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The Mercedes-Benz C-Class won the first North American Car of the Year Award, while Chrysler's Dodge Ram pickup took home the first North American Truck of the Year honors.
 Modeled after the highly respected European Car of the Year Award, the new awards were announced at the 1994 North American International Auto show in Detroit today.
 The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, introduced in November 1993, replaced the 190 series, known as the Baby Benz. The new C-Class was developed to be "more car without more cost," according to Mercedes. Priced the same as its predecessor, the new C-Class provides greater safety, higher fuel efficiency, reduced exhaust emissions, improved performance and more comfort and interior room.
 In making their selection, several members of the awards jury, made up of 45 journalists who cover the auto industry, noted the significant advancements in the Mercedes C-Class and its outstanding value.
 "What a wonderful honor, in its first year, to be chosen as the North American Car of the Year by the continent's premiere automotive writers," said Michael Bassermann, president and chief executive officer, Mercedes-Benz of North America. "This award, and the reception our customers have given the C-Class, positions this car as the leader in its class."
 The Mercedes-Benz C-Class was selected for the prestigious award from a list of 17 nominees. The Chevrolet Camaro ranked second in the awards balloting followed by the Toyota Supra, Saab 900 and Chrysler New Yorker/LHS.
 The other nominees for the North American Car of the Year were: Acura Integra; Cadillac DeVille; Ford Mustang; Honda Accord; Lexus GS 300; Lincoln Mark VII; Mitsubishi Galant; Pontiac Firebird; Subaru Impreza; Toyota Celica; Toyota Supra; Volkswagen Golf III; and Volkswagen Jetta III.
 The Dodge Ram Pickup, with its distinctive styling, was selected over two other nominees, the Chevrolet S-10/GMC Sonoma pickups and the Land Rover Defender 90. In addition to the award, the Ram is in great demand in the marketplace. Chrysler already has 120,000 orders for its new pickup, two year's worth of the pickup it replaced.
 Members of the jury who selected the Ram as the North American Truck of the Year praised the pickup's bold and innovative design as well as its exceptional performance. Many noted the Dodge Ram redefines pickup trucks.
 The new North American car and truck awards were determined via special ballot by a jury comprised of 45 North American journalists who cover the auto industry for daily newspapers, news weeklies, wire services, enthusiast publications and radio and TV stations.
 To be eligible for the awards, the cars and trucks had to be introduced into the North American market between Dec. 15, 1992 and Dec. 15, 1993. cars have to have anticipated sales of at least 5,000 units a year; trucks require expected annual sales of at least 2,000 units annually. Vehicles must be all new or have significant design, structural or mechanical changes from a previous year in order to be eligible.
 The winners receive trophies designed by Carl L. Olsen, transportation section chair at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit. The trophy will be awarded to Mercedes at 11 a.m. Monday on the automaker's exhibit at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center. Dodge will accept the trophy for the Ram at 11:30 a.m. Monday at its stand at the auto show.
 -0- 1/2/94
 /CONTACT: John Love of Event Management, 313-393-4050/

CO: North American International Auto Show ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU:

MP -- NYSU002 -- 8354 01/02/94 18:33 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 2, 1994

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