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2009 Earth, Wind & Power Awards
Inagural Earth, Wind & Power Awards' Winners

By Samantha Gasco

For the 13th consecutive year, the ICOTY jury presented its International Car of the Year Awards (ICOTY). The elegant black-tie gala, held at the MGM Grand Detroit, was the anticipated kick-off event of press week for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Produced with all the glitz and glamour of the Academy Awards the entertaining and unique event hosted over 500 industry leaders, VIPs, and media to celebrate the night’s winners and enjoy the festivities.

2009 Volkswagen TDI
2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

The highlight of the evening was the launch of the inaugural Earth, Wind & Power Awards (EWP), which honored the most environmentally-friendly car and truck of the year. The mission of these new awards is to recognize vehicles driven by a power source that help reduce global warming, is conducive to promoting a cleaner environment and support the mission to achieve energy independence through alternative sources. The jury awarded this environmental ingenuity to the Volkswagen Jetta TDI as the EWP Car of the Year, and the Ford Escape Hybrid as the EWP Truck of the Year.

Accepting the honor of EWP Car of the Year on behalf of Volkswagen of America was Chief Operating Officer Mark Barnes. Nancy Gioia, Director Sustainabillity and Hybrid Vehicle Programs accepted the EWP Truck of the Year Award on behalf of Ford Motor Company.

2009 Volkswagen TDI
2009 Ford Escape Hybrid

“With global warming and concerns about dependence of foreign oil becoming mainstream, more people are turning to fuel-efficient or alternative fuel vehicles,” said Courtney Caldwell, ICOTY creator and producer. “It’s become of vital interest to consumers, automakers, and the future of our planet to produce vehicles that are compatible with our environment.”

In addition to the EWP Award, Honda Motor Company was recognized with the second annual Earth Angel Award, as the most environmentally-progressive automaker. Sponsored by Bridgestone, and co-presented by Mike Martini, president, consumer OE, Bridgestone Americas, the award honors the automaker showing the most progress with environmental initiatives and partnerships on a worldwide level. U.S. Congressman Gary Peters, D-Mich., provided opening remarks for the award citing the importance of recognizing the auto industry for the remarkable strides being taken within the environmental arena.

As one of the most respected writers in the industry and a fighter for equality, Warren Brown became the sixth recipient of the Lifetime Legend Award, sponsored by Ford Motor Company. A veteran automotive journalist for nearly 30 years with The Washington Post, Brown has provided words of wisdom to many from his firsthand experiences in some of the world’s most impressive vehicles.

The top honor for the 2009 International Car of the Year went to the Nissan GT-R. The Dodge Ram 1500 took home the top prize for International Truck of the Year. The mission of the ICOTY Awards is to honor new model vehicles that reflect lifestyle compatibility and how well automakers achieve that goal through the design and marketing of the vehicle.

The EWP winners are selected by a jury made up of 16 nationally-renowned automotive journalists, with final ballots tabulated by J.D. Power and Associates to ensure accuracy and credibility.

Among the political elite in attendance was U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow,D-Mich., who provided opening remarks for the ICOTY Award's celebration.

Other leaders who attended the premiere event was U.S. Congressman John Dingell, D-Mich., who joined other high-profile personalities to celebrate the awards.  Notables in attendance included; Dave Woodward, Oakland County Commissioner, Michigan; Mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr., City of Detroit; Mayor Jim Ellison, City of Royal Oak; Mayor Michael Zambricki, City of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Ted H. Quisenberry, Chief of Police, Royal Oak, Michigan; Mayor Brenda Lawrence, City of Southfield, Michigan; James R. Barren, Ph.D, Detroit Chief of Police; Tim Manganello, Chairman & CEO, BorgWarner Inc.; Motohiro Matsumura, president, Nissan Technical Center North America; Dan CasaSanta, president & GM, BorgWarner TorqTransfer Systems; Bill Rains, president, U-Haul Company of Central Michigan; Mike Kosmowski, president, Novi Manufacting Plant, U-Haul; Ali Gillentine, president, U-Haul Company of Northwest Ohio; Mark Barnes, chief operating officer, Volkswagen of America; Robin Adams, chief financial officer, BorgWarner Inc.; Scott Kunselmen, VP, Jeep/Truck Product Team; Charles Allen, senior VP, Honda R&D Americas Inc.; and Frank Davis, executive director, NA Product Development, Ford Motor Company.

The black-tie VIP & Media Welcome Reception that preceded the main event was sponsored by: Chrysler LLC, General Motors Corporation, State Farm, Subaru of America, American Honda, Audi of America, Hyundai of America, Mazda NA Operations, BorgWarner Inc., Continental, Mercedes-Benz USA and U-Haul International.

2009 media partners include, MSN Autos, Yahoo! Autos, Consumer Guide Automotive, Autobytel/, ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine, AOL Autos, and Earth, Wind & Power Blogazine, all of which will provide post event coverage.

ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine is proud to share the winners and honorable mentions for the 2009 ICOTY Awards.

2009 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year Winner

Click here to view the International Car of the Year Award Winners

For All Things Environmental Visit: Earth, Wind & Power Blogazine

2009 ICOTY Awards Links