Some time ago in TTACs history, the site held an award for the poorest choices in the automobile kingdom. We called it the Ten Worst Automobiles Today – or, the TWATs, for short. It’s been almost 4 years since the TWATs were last run, but for 2012, they’re back.
Honda’s decision to redesign the current Civic after barely a year on the market was described to me by one former Honda insider as “the closest they will ever come to admitting to gross incompetence.” Even though the Civic has been panned by most outlets, the staff at About.com called the Civic one of the Best New Cars of 2012.
Having just spent a weekend officiating at a race with one of the perpetrators of the latest Motor Trend Car of the Year choice, I got to thinking about past controversial COTY choices… and what choices we might make today, with the benefit of hindsight. Second-guessing the 1971 and 1983 choices is fish-in-a-barrel stuff (though I think the very radical-for-Detroit Vega deserved the award in spite of its terrible execution), but you can find tough choices all the way back to 1949. Today we’re going to talk about 1970′s Car of the Year winner: the Ford Torino. (Read More…)
Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award has been a lightning rod of criticism among automotive gadflies ever since… well, you decide. Corvair? Vega? Mustang II? Every year, MT picks one “best” car from a market that serves a wide variety of needs, and every year, the autoblogosphere rushes to help the tottering “contest” collapse under the weight of its own pretense. This year, with Motor Trend picking Volkswagen’s new de-Euro’d Passat (a car that has received a decidedly mixed critical reception) for its highest honor, is it any wonder that the peanut gallery is frothing over the choice?
It’s safe to say that most of the seemingly infinite number of “car of the year” competitions are so utterly bunk that they’re not even worth the effort of exposing. But the reality is that you still see advertisements for cars proudly proclaiming them the favored choice of some local, national, or media outlet’s car of the year competition. So, to show just how non-representative and unscientific these awards can be, we thought we’d share the categories from the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada (AJAC)’s “Test Fest,” which will determine the “Canadian Car Of The Year” as well as the favored cars in several categories. Our Canadian tipster writes:
They do all kinds of crap that skew the results. For example, they use the cars “as tested” price to determine what category it falls under, rather than MSRP. So what category the car falls under is completely at the whim of whatever car the manufacturer drops off and what category THEY want the car tested in. You could have an Elantra fall into the “Over $21,000″ category or “Under $21,000″ category depending on content. Same car, 2 different categories. But it gets better. Some of the categories I call “lump” categories because they just throw everything in one category. My favorite is Sports Car Under $50K. They actually have the Veloster competing against an Charger SRT8 and a C Class Merc. No, I’m not making this us. I’ve included the list for you, so that you may try and decipher WTF these boobs are doing.
Hit the jump to check out the categories for yourself. But first, it should be noted that despite previous questions about the AJAC award’s ethics, the competition now has a page on its website dedicated specifically to enumerating the ethical obligations of participating journalists and the award’s organizers. Unfortunately that page is limited to the following content:
Code of Ethics
AJAC Ethical Guidelines
Whether agree that automotive PR needs to take more risks or you think it takes more than enough risks already, we can all enjoy the outlandish quotes that do emanate from industry executives in spite of the protective PR-professional bubble that surrounds them. And though TTAC has only had the institutional follow-through to hold a single “Lutzie Award” in the past, I figured that next week (when I’ll be presenting a flood of content based on my extended rap session with Maximum Bob) would be the perfect opportunity to bring them back. And in order to do so, we need you, our readers, to make the nominations. So fire up the search engine of your choice, and hit the jump for nominating criteria and the rules of this year’s awards.
Chevy’s Volt and Ford’s Explorer won North American Car and Truck of the year, a result which surprised precisely nobody here at Cobo Hall. The Volt beat out Nissan’s Leaf and Hyundai’s Sonata, while the Explorer beat out Dodge’s Durango and Jeep’s Grand Cherokee. But forget the well-fed journos who make up the NACOTY jury… what is your car and truck of the year… and why?
Anybody who made it through the last 12 months or so with their passion for the Saab brand intact deserves some kind of free psychological screening and endangered species protection award. Hell, anyone who made it through the last 20 years… you know what, this isn’t the moment for cynicism. Through the wrenching chaos of GM’s often-abortive attempts to sell Saab, the website SaabsUnited has stood by its brand, aggregating the most complete Saab sale coverage on the web, and generally consoling the faithful. Oh yes, and suffering through a relentless stream of cynicism from yours truly (sorry guys, it’s all we know). Anyway, for being the keepers of hope when all hope seemed lost, Saab has named and annual award after SaabsUnited which
will be made annually as the company’s way of expressing its gratitude to people like [SU founder Steven Wade] and others who continue to show us such great support.
According to the Korea Times, Automotive News has named its “Auto Executives Of The Year,” bestowing its North American honors upon Ford CEO Alan Mulally, its European award to VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, and its Asian award to Hyundai CEO Chung Mong-Koo. Mulally is credited with improving Ford’s US-market position during a sales downturn, while Winterkorn was honored for his bold plan to move most of VW’s vehicles to only three modular platforms. But perhaps the most controversial award went to Chung, who has improved Hyundai’s standing in the global industry, but has suffered more than his fair share of legal problems in the process.
These are the ten vehicles that NHTSA says are made from 90 percent domestically-produced components [via cars.com]. Notice a common thread there? Yes, the correct answer is Ford involvement, but according to cars.com, the task of crowning a “king of domestic content” isn’t as simple as NHTSA’s number.
What’s that you say? Chrysler’s planning on spending $170 per projected vehicle sale on advertising next year? That could be as much as $1.4b! Well, we can’t give the Journey a prize for obvious reasons, but they do have a new Ram out this year… Truck Of The Year it is!
What do you say about a purported “Total Value Index” that includes such notable turkeys as Honda’s Insight, Mercedes’ R-Class, and Chrysler Aspen? No seriously, what do you say? Did nobody at Strategic Vision notice that the Aspen has been discontinued or that the Insight is actually less compelling than a Civic Hybrid? Besides, can we be done with surveys that find different ask people how much they love the car they just dropped a load of money on? If you’re dumb enough to spend money on an Aspen, you’re dumb enough to say it has more “total value” than any other mid-size ute. But why does SV have to give your dumb, self-justifying opinion even the thinnest veneer of credibility? Here’s what Strategic Vision’s President has to say about the list:
Durability alone and simply satisfying customers is not enough for buyers who demand both immediate and long term Value. Customers no longer feel constrained to consider only the ‘usual suspects.’ Because of increased quality, competitive prices and manufacturers fighting for their lives to provide Loveworthy℠ vehicles, this is truly an exciting time for car buyers, today and in the near future. Manufacturers are listening and reacting quickly to stay competitive.
By discontinuing models that appear on the list? Sigh. Match these vehicles against their sales numbers, and you’ll see that the only consumer opinions that count (i.e. the ones backed by purchases) are very different than this list.
Ah, car of the year (COTY) awards. The magical time of year when every magazine, website, and national auto journalist association decides that it has to make a definitive call on the best automobile that money can buy. And though nobody on the consumer end really takes these things seriously (when have you ever heard someone say they bought a car because it was (institution name here’s) COTY?), the folks in charge of these awards get incredibly intense about their mission. Take the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and its self-righteous rage at a Canadian journalist, Michael Banovsky, who had the gall to report that the Canadian COTY competition removes perfect scores (as revealed in the judge training webinar video above). The AJAC immediately demanded a retraction, clarifying what their video didn’t:
No votes were thrown out, but rather if any appear as a 10, they are “discounted” to 9.9 during tabulation by the international accounting firm of KPMG. This has been the practice for many years because, as any experienced automotive journalist knows, nothing is perfect, especially something as complex as a motor vehicle.
Time Magazine goes ahead and gives an unproven, unavailable vehicle a “Best Invention of 2009″ award.