The 2023 North American Car, Truck, and Utility Vehicle of the Year (NACTOY) chooses its winners this time every year. The awards are only modestly prestigious and certainly not on the level of the MotorTrend’s. Nevertheless, it’s better than nothing. The winner in the truck category is the much-maligned, poor-selling Ford F-150 Lightning, which The Ford Motor Company took from a potential home run into a failure.
The NACTOY is voted on by 50 journalists, which it calls jurors. The initial pool is 47 “eligible vehicles,” the number of which is then cut to 26 semifinalists and then nine finalists. The winner in the car category for 2023 was the Acura Integra. The Utility Vehicle of the Year was the Kia EV6. Given the extremely small number of EVs sold in the US, particularly beyond Teslas, two EVs winning is extraordinary.
Commenting on the F-150 Lightning choice, Bengt Halvorson of Green Car Reports said, “Save the reinvention. The F-150 Lightning shows how the most familiar vehicle in American life can be made even better as an EV, and it’s fantastic.” The gas-powered version of the F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the US for over four decades. In the first 11 months of the year, sales of the F-150 were 38% (679,948) of Ford’s 1,803,569 total unit sales. The Lightening had sales of 20,365.
Ford has had trouble with the Lighting for over a year. The company raised the price of the Lightning four times. And, then, it cut them. Ford discovered that consumers were much more likely to buy hybrid versions of the F-150, which tells a great deal about the demand for a full-sized EV pickup.
Ford has retreated from its EV plans. It has delayed production targets. America’s No.2 car company also said it would delay some of its $12 billion investment in an EV future.
If any EV in America had a chance to build significant sales, it was the Lighting. It was part of a multi-billion investment by Ford. The Lightning carried the same name as the best-selling vehicle in America. Almost all Ford has to show for this effort is the North American Truck of the Year award.