The Truth About Cars » Awards The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:47:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Awards JD Power Initial Quality Study Shows GM, Hyundai, Porsche Leading The Pack Thu, 19 Jun 2014 12:00:29 +0000 2013 Buick Encore, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

J.D. Power has released their U.S. Initial Quality Study for 2014, where General Motors, Hyundai and Porsche earned top marks despite consumers still struggling with the gizmology taking over their vehicles.

Autoblog reports GM’s Buick, Chevrolet and GMC captured more awards than anyone else in the 2014 IQS, with six vehicles winning in their segments. Meanwhile, Hyundai and Porsche were ranked best overall mass-market and premium brand, respectively, where the former reported 94 issues per 100 vehicles reported in the first 90 days, 74/100 for the latter. Porsche also dominated the IQS, having the best score of all brands surveyed.

On the other end of the scale, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ranked poorly in the study, with Fiat holding dead last at 206 problems per 100 vehicles reported in the survey period. Jeep came second-to-last with 146/100, while Dodge was just below the industry average at 124/100. Only Ram and Chrysler fared the best, matching or just exceeding the average of 116/100.

Part of the results may be due to automakers pushing the envelope on technology and new features to make consumers’ lives easier. J.D. Power Vice President of Global Automotive David Sargent says “almost all automakers are struggling” to introduce these pieces “without introducing additional quality problems.” In turn, some consumers are noting the technologies involved are “hard to understand, difficult to use, or [do] not always work as designed.”

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Rigged Voting May Lead ADAC To Scrap Annual Award Fri, 24 Jan 2014 11:00:44 +0000 ADAC Golden Angel

German auto club Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club e.V., or ADAC, may no longer bestow their annual Yellow Angel Award after the club admitted to vote rigging.

Automotive News reports that ADAC’s communications director, Michael Ramstetter, resigned from his post after confessing he manipulated the results of the Yellow Angel Award — given to what the auto club considers as Germany’s favorite car, providing a boost in sales to the winner — to favor the Volkswagen Golf. Through Ramstetter’s actions, the Golf received 34,299 votes to take the prize; the hatch actually received 3,409 votes from the club’s 18 million members.

Club president Peter Meyer said the Yellow Angel has no future, leading to speculation that the annual prize may be scrapped. The rigging also has critics calling into question the validity of ADAC’s car safety testing, and the club’s overall credibility.

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TTAC’s Ten Best Cars Of 2012 Nominations Are Now Open Thu, 04 Oct 2012 16:05:17 +0000

It’s been a few years since TTAC has held an award ceremony for the best and worst vehicles, but 2012 marks the re-birth of two storied traditions for the site – and it’s all decided by you, the readers.

The rules and process are similar to our TWAT awards, though we’re looking for the vehicles that stand out for positive reasons. Just as it’s difficult to find a truly bad car in this marketplace, it’s also hard to find something really oustanding. Everything on the market is pretty good, but we’re looking for great.

Have at it, but don’t forget the rules listed below.

1. To qualify, a vehicle must be offered for sale as a new vehicle in the U.S. between Jan 1, 2012 and now. Where it’s built, where the company is headquartered, sales volume, price or neat swag from the manufacturer play no part in the selection process.

2. We’ll only accept nominations that give at least one legitimate reason why a vehicle qualifies for the award. It helps if you’ve had some time behind the wheel and can pass along first-hand experience.

3. Nominations that don’t include justification, just say “me too” or similarly indicate lack of mental prowess and it will simply disappear. Boom! Gone.

4. If you disagree with a particular nomination, feel free to offer an opposing view. However, TTAC’s posting policy is in full force. Anyone who flames (personally attacks) the website, its authors or fellow commentators will have their comment deleted and face a permanent posting ban.

5. Once nominations are closed, TTAC’s writing staff will gather in a secret e-conclave to select 20 finalists from the nominees. The more eloquent the nomination, the better chance it has of surviving our (let’s face it) subjective process.

6. We will submit these 20 finalists for your consideration. You may vote (via an electronic poll) for up to ten vehicles on the list which you deem worthy of a place TTAC’s Ten Best.  Don’t get carried away, though. We’re going to do everything we can to prevent voting improprieties. After all, this isn’t Chicago!

7.   The winners will be announced whenever we get around to it.  We have nothing to give the winners but our disdain, so the winning manufacturers will find out about it like everyone else.

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Hey Readers; Tell Us About Your TWATs Tue, 11 Sep 2012 14:00:12 +0000

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.

Conventional wisdom has it that it’s pretty hard to buy a bad car nowadays. In 2008, that wasn’t the case. But 4 years on, the crop of cars has undeniably gotten much better. Boring may be the operative word, but it’s hard to find a truly wretched vehicle for sale.

Rather than handing down the gospel from on high, like every other auto site, we’re opening up the floor to you, the readers, to nominate cars for the TWAT awards.

Rules will be similar to the Farago era. We are still tweaking the rules for this year’s competition, but here are the old rules, for reference.

1.  Any car or light truck offered for sale as a new vehicle in the U.S. between January 1 and today is eligible for nomination. I know those of you in Canada and other countries feel left out, but we have to draw the line somewhere to keep this under control.  It doesn’t matter who built it or where, just that it’s sold legally in the States.

2.  All nominations have to be justified.  That doesn’t mean just saying it’s a POS car.  Tell us WHY it’s a POS car.  Nominations may be deleted unceremoniously and without warning for any of the following reasons:  insufficient justification, excessive verbosity or pontification, foul language or patent absurdity.

3.  All nominations must meet TTAC’s house rules on flaming or trolling (i.e., don’t).  Offensive comments about other readers will be summarily deleted and the writer could be banned from TTAC.  However, offensive observations about the nominees are encouraged.

4.  Blatantly badge-engineered siblings can be nominated jointly if they all suck equally (see winner #8 above).  Platform mates can be nominated separately, but may be combined at the whim of the editor for the final vote.

5.  If we can wake them up long enough, TTAC’s writers will select finalists from the nominees, give or take a few.  The number of times a vehicle is nominated is irrelevant so don’t waste the pixels on typing “me too.”

6.  Readers will vote via an electronic survey on the finalists to determine America’s Ten Worst Vehicles.  Multiple voting ain’t kosher so don’t even try.

7.  Nominations begin today and will continue until midnight EDT, Sunday December 8, with the 20 finalists presented for voting a few days afterwards.  The winners will be announced whenever we get around to it.  We have nothing to give the winners but our disdain, so the winning manufacturers will find out about it like everyone else.

How do you decide what crapmoblies are worthy of your attention?

- Styling so bad it could even make Stevie Wonder look the other way.

- A market misfit that makes you wonder what the product planners were smoking, drinking, shooting up or otherwise self-administering.

- Engineering malpractice that makes the vehicle practically undrivable or so bland you wouldn’t want to drive it.

- Something that you can’t quite put your finger on but gives you the urge to regurge anytime you think about it.

So now it’s in your court.  Make your nominations below and tell us which ones you think are really deserving of being named one of TTAC’s Ten Worst Vehicles.

Following the poll, our editors will chime in with some of their own choices, and Murilee will present his list of most wretched rental cars.

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2012 Honda Civic Wins About.Com “Best New Cars Award”, Praise From Derek’s Grandma Fri, 13 Jan 2012 16:24:43 +0000

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 called the Civic one of the Best New Cars of 2012.

Aaron Gold, author of the piece, lauded the Civic for being

“… the most comprehensive compact car on the market. You can get a sedan or a coupe; a high-fuel-efficiency version; a high-performance version; a leather-lined version; a hybrid version; even an alternative-fuel version that runs on clean natural gas. And whichever Civic you choose, you’re virtually guaranteed years of trouble-free motoring.”

Gold’s depiction of the Civic brings to mind an automotive buffet. And like most buffet restaurants, the abundance of choice cannot be correlated with the quality of the offerings. Seeking a neutral, third-party perspective, I decided to get the opinion of a car enthusiast with decades of experience driving all kinds of cars on multiple continents – my grandma.

At 78 years old, Yvette Lerner has lived a rich and full life and shows no signs of slowing down. Although she is more interested in bridge, Masterpiece Theater and her adult education classes, Lerner is a car enthusiast, having owned everything from an MG Magnette, a Skoda convertible, a ’65 Mustang with a 289 V8, a Chrysler LeBaron K-Car and a 1993 Escort with a 5-speed manual, that she purchased after she had turned 60. Grandma also owned one of the first 1973 Civics in North America, and now drives a 2000 Honda Civic sedan (with a 4-speed automatic) with 47,845 miles, and had a 2012 Civic LX as a service loaner while her car is in the body shop. She also notes that she “did [her] driving test in England. It’s harder, and I had to do it on a [manual] shift car. And park on a hill.” That’s more than can be said for most drivers today.

“I liked that new Honda!” said Lerner. “It was really peppy, much more than mine is. The windows go down automatically and you sit higher up. The radio was much better too.” When asked if she would trade in her 2000 Civic, considered to be the best generation ever made by enthusiasts, the answer was an emphatic yes, but Lerner noted she’d spend her money on something besides a new car, and her current Civic was in “immaculate condition.” Notably absent were complaints about MacPherson struts, electric power steering systems or the ECO mode, though Lerner did praise the ride quality as being “smoother than my Civic.”

While journalists such as Gold get their Civics dropped off and picked up from their home or workplace with a full tank of gas and insurance provided, Lerner paid for her own fuel, used her own insurance policy and was weighing a possible purchase decision, as a retiree living on a fixed income. Her car enthusiast pedigree is also stronger than that of some of the people you meet on press launches.

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Car of the Year Revisionism, 1970 Edition: If Not the Torino, What? Wed, 07 Dec 2011 18:00:46 +0000 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.
The Torino wasn’t a fundamentally new car for 1970 (though it did get a sheetmetal redesign and a longer and wider chassis than its predecessor), and it didn’t break any new technological ground. It was a good-looking machine, to be sure, and it could be had with a mighty 375-horse 429-cubic-inch engine, but did it deserve the award? If not, what new or “substantially upgraded” 1970 car would you choose, were you to go back in time equipped with Svengali-grade hypnotic powers to change the minds of the MT War Council? To make things more interesting, we might revise the rules to allow imports to be considered for the purposes of this debate (the Porsche 914 won the Motor Trend Import Car of the Year Award in ’70, by the way), but that’s up to you. The AMC Hornet? The second-generation GM F-body? The Saab Sonett III? Discuss.

Image source: Old Car Brochures

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Motor Trend’s Car Of The Year: As Relevant As You’d Expect Wed, 16 Nov 2011 23:56:21 +0000

Click here to view the embedded video.

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?

Jalopnik, the gaddiest of automotive gadflies, swung for the moon with their headline of “Golden Shower” superimposed atop a picture of Editor-In-Chief Angus Mackenzie. Mike Spinelli’s satirical rant, praising Motor Trend for giving the award to a car that has been watered-down and decontented for the American market, would be funny if there weren’t legions of people who earnestly believed the Passat could qualify as some kind of enthusiast vehicle beyond the mere fact that it was a Volkswagen, and therefore obscure to most consumers.

The previous Passats were great cars. I lobbied hard for my folks to buy a B6 Wagon in high school but they ended up going with a Hyundai Santa Fe. The inside of a Passat was, to quote a popular movie at the time “lined with rich mahogany and filled with leather [bound books]…” and the 2.0T engine provided a nice kick. The dealer even had a parts counter guy who offered to re-flash the ECU for another 40 horsepower and 90 lb-ft, but alas, it wasn’t to be. Otherwise, the Passats were just “meh” to drive. More fun than a CamCord to be certain, but eating diabetic candy is more fun than eating celery sticks.

But a rant like Jalopnik’s, as funny as it is, is just as disingenuous as Motor Trend’s award – it’s not really about the quality of the car or of Motor Trend’s journalism, but a sly bit of branding and status whoring, intending to position Jalopnik as a site of integrity, by the enthusiasts, for enthusiasts. We’ve seen this before with the Jeff Glucker hit-piece, in spite of the rampant XBOX whoring and other questionable tactics like misleading headlines that lead to single sentence posts. Motor Trend may have made a bad call, but trotting out the typical “enthusiasts are being ignored” canard is the wrong move when our target for attack has given the COTY award to illustrious candidates like the 2002 Ford Thunderbird and the 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Spinelli asks rhetorically “Why would Motor Trend cater to the whims of “enthusiasts” over the marketplace?” Because, as we’ve established long ago, enthusiasts complain endlessly and buy seldom. Meanwhile, the new Jetta is setting sales records, despite it apparently being the enthusiast Antichrist on four wheels [Ed: to the point where Forbes calls it a "flop," despite its 27% bump in sales]

On to the next bête noire – Motor Trend brags about this year’s field of cars being one of the largest and most competitive, at 35. Looking at the field, I can see about, oh, 33 more worthy candidates (aside from the Fisker Karma, which is vaporware and looks like a kosher sausage that stayed in the frying pan too long). Why not the Ford Focus or the Chevrolet Sonic, two small cars that prove that American cars can beat the imports at their own game [Ed: Might this not have been the best year in history for MT to give a GM small car the honor, after so many embarrassments?]? Why not the Audi A7, which should win for no other reason than being heartbreakingly beautiful? Why not the Nissan LEAF for being a mass market EV that actually works?

If you ask me, the reason is because Motor Trend is out of touch with everything and everyone else outside of Planet Motor Trend, and has officially become irrelevant. They slam the Ford Explorer, but again, it seems to do just fine in the sales race. Their endless advertorial love affair with the CTS-V wagon “long term tester” is almost a parody of auto journalisms excesses. And don’t forget MacKenzie’s own piece for Subaru’s magazine (and MT) which detailed his all-expenses paid jaunt to the Australian Outback in – A Subaru Outback! More than anything else, this seems like MT is betting that the new Passat will sell well, rather than rewarding a manufacturer for a truly significant achievement. And who precisely learns what from that?

Ed described the new Passat to me as “A German Impala” and that’s a pretty apt, if uncharitable description. It’s a lot better than the “enthusiast” vanguard would have you believe, but there’s still something not quite right. It’s a little watered down, a little soft around the edges – just right for everyone else who isn’t totally immersed in the world of automotive trivia. And they’ve never bought a car based on an annual award anyways.

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What’s Wrong With This Competition?: Canadian Car Of The Year Edition Sun, 30 Oct 2011 17:08:53 +0000

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

Under review.


Small Car < $21K
Chevrolet Sonic Sedan
Fiat 500
Honda Civic Sedan
Hyundai Accent
Kia Rio S
Nissan Versa Sedan
Scion iQ

Small Car > $21K
Ford Focus
Hyundai Elantra
Subaru Impreza
Volkswagen Beetle

Family < $30K
Chevrolet Orlando
Chrysler 200
Kia Optima LX
Mazda 5
Toyota Camry
Volkswagen Passat TDI

Family > $30K
Chevrolet Volt
Dodge Charger
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Kia Optima Hybrid
MINI Countryman
Toyota Prius V

Luxury Car
Acura TL
Buick LaCrosse eAssist
Chrysler 300S
Infiniti M35h
Lexus CT200h
Mercedes C-Class C350 4MATIC

Sports/Performance < $50K
Buick Regal GS
Dodge Charger SRT8
Honda Civic SI Coupe
Hyundai Veloster
Kia Optima SX
Mercedes C-Class Coupe

Sports/Performance > $50K
BMW 1 Series M Coupe
Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
Chrysler 300 SRT8
Hyundai Genesis R-Spec
Mercedes CLS C-Class
Porsche Cayman R

Prestige > $75K
BMW  6 Series Cabriolet
Jaguar XKR-S
Mercedes S-Class S350 BlueTEC 4MATIC

SUV-CUV < $35K
Dodge Journey
Jeep Compass
Jeep Wrangler

SUV-CUV $35-$60K
Dodge Durango
Ford Explorer
Range Rover Evoque
Volkswagen Touraeg TDI

SUV-CUV > $60K
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
Mercedes M-Class

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Your Nominations Please: Announcing The 2010-2011 Lutzie Awards For Outrageous Auto Exec Quotes Mon, 29 Aug 2011 22:57:05 +0000

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.

The basic premise of the Lutzie awards is simple, and has not changed since this site’s founder first laid them down:

The Lutzie is our award for the industry executive who made the most outlandish statement or statements, demonstrated a total disconnect with reality and/or inserted their pedal extremity firmly into their oral cavity with alarming regularity. We’re looking to you for nominations, starting today. Tell us who you think is most deserving of the award and give us a quote that illustrates their worth in a comment below.

Nominations will stay open through Friday of this week, and then TTAC’s editors will narrow the list down to our ten favorites. On Wednesday of next week (technology permitting), we’ll announce our official ballot and open voting for 48 hours. We will then announce our winner with great pomp and circumstance, bringing glory to the waywardly loudmouthed winning executive. One final rule: because it’s been a long time since we’ve held these awards, nominated quotes can come from any time between 1/1/10 and 8/31/11. Good luck to all, and may the most outrageous quote win!

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Ask The Best And Brightest: What Is Your Car Of The Year? Mon, 10 Jan 2011 14:12:32 +0000

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?

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Saab Fan Blog Inspires Official Award Fri, 06 Aug 2010 22:50:11 +0000 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.

This might seem like so much PR fluff, but having read SU daily during the height of the Saab sale drama, I’m forced to say that SaabsUnited is a testament to the new power of the internet. Never in the history of the autoblogosphere has a blogger ever become so close to the center of a story on the strength of sheer passion alone. Even when it seemed like Spyker and GM were ready to call the brand quits, SU was there, agitating and organizing. At a time when automotive passion seems to be at something of a low tide, SaabsUnited showed that brand loyalty verging on the unreasonably fanatical is still alive. For that, they deserve a moment of recognition… even if some of us still think Saab’s still deep in the doodoo.

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Chung Mong-Koo, Alan Mulally And Martin Winterkorn Named “Auto Executives Of The Year” Mon, 12 Jul 2010 19:03:04 +0000

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.

While most write-ups of the award focus on Hyundai’s sales growth, and critical acclaim for such new products as the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, Chung Mong-Koo has spent the last several years fighting accusations of embezzlement and political fraud. Convicted of raising a $100m slush fund back in 2007, Chung was sentenced to three years in prison, only to receive a presidential pardon for his “contributions to the Korean economy.” In short, because his bribe checks cleared.

And though Chung was able to evade a number of attempts to put him behind bars (no head of a chaebol, or Korean family-owned conglomerate has ever served a full prison sentence), his malfeasance has still hurt his company. Only this year, Mong-Koo was found guilty of “managerial malfeasance” for selling shares in Hyundai Group subsidiaries despite the fact that the share sales damaged the company’s standing. According to the ruling in that case, brought by 14 Hyundai shareholders,

The court has recognised the fact that Chung made Hyundai Motor participate in the share sales to head off any threat to the Hyundai Group’s managerial rights, even though it could inflict damage on his company. This is a case that reveals the problem of family-run management that focuses on the interests of major stockholders and the executives of Hyundai Motor

In short, Chung Mong-Koo, who once refused a request by his father, former Hyundai Group boss Chung Ju-yung, to step down from his position at the top of Hyundai/Kia Motors, has hurt his company on numerous occasions by acting with little regard to the rule of law and fair competition. Sure, Hyundai is showing many signs of improvement, but naming its CEO as the top Asian auto executive only months after he was fined $60m for managerial malfeasance sends a problematic message. Surely Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda was  disqualified for AN’s award due to its CEO’s challenges with a global recall scandal… so why wasn’t Chung disqualified for being charged with managerial malfeasance after being sued by his shareholders?

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Chart Of The Day: Domestic Content Edition Wed, 23 Jun 2010 22:45:46 +0000

These are the ten vehicles that NHTSA says are made from 90 percent domestically-produced components [via]. Notice a common thread there? Yes, the correct answer is Ford involvement, but according to, the task of crowning a “king of domestic content” isn’t as simple as NHTSA’s number. doesn’t give away the secret recipe for its American Made Index, but it says that it weighs parts content (minimum requirement: 75 percent) against sales to find the maximum economic impact. It also models excludes vehicles built exclusively outside the U.S. or models that are being phased out (akaTown Car, and the Mercurys). Here is the top of their list for 2010:

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Totally Unrelated Edition Thu, 10 Dec 2009 22:47:36 +0000 Groan

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!

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Strategic Vision’s “Total Value” Turkey List Fri, 27 Nov 2009 15:35:24 +0000 Picture 52

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.

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Canadian Car Of The Year Kerfluffle Tue, 24 Nov 2009 20:04:26 +0000

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.

Banovsky’s response:

I encourage and appreciate debate about the much-respected Canadian Car of the Year (CCotY) competition, widely regarded as one of the most thorough vehicle evaluations in the world. However, I also demand complete public transparency with not only the voting process, but how votes are weighted, tabulated, and scored. Since Canadian vehicle manufacturers spend tens of thousands of dollars to enter models for consideration in the CCotY and the car buying public spends tens of thousands of dollars on purchases based on results of the competition, complete transparency is a must.

And he’s got a good point. In the video above, the AJAC claims that providing journalists with a free track day and OEMs with marketing fodder are only “secondary benefits” of the competition. The primary purpose is “to provide consumers with sound comparative information on vehicles that are new to the market… to assist them in making informed shopping and purchase decision.” But if that were truly the case, its judging criteria and complete competition data would be made publicly available, in which case judges would not have had their scores altered.

In reality though, informing good consumer choices has nothing to do with the Canadian, or any other, COTY competition. After all, how can the AJAC be so adamant that no car deserves a perfect 10 score, when the entire point of the exercise is to elevate a single vehicle across every segment, price point capability? Consumers buy different vehicles based on their individual needs, and suggesting that a single model should be perceived in a more favorable light regardless of ones’ individual needs is downright anti-consumer. Indeed, the very idea of awarding a single vehicle the title of “Car Of The Year” is undeniably a product of the industry-media complex. Hiding the “secondary benefits” of marketing fodder and a free journo trackday behind the veneer of consumer education is frankly, a bad joke. Though the Canadian COTY may not (as Autoguide suggested then retracted) be rigged, that doesn’t mean the CCOTY is in any way a meaningful competition. As such, who cares if they throw out perfect scores or not. If AJAC is serious about providing valuable consumer information, they would do well to heed Mr Banovsky’s critique, rather than blindly and defensively lashing out at him.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Tomorrow’s Award Today Edition Mon, 16 Nov 2009 20:12:49 +0000 Count those chickens...

Time Magazine goes ahead and gives an unproven, unavailable vehicle a “Best Invention of 2009″ award.

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