Three electrics plug into New Zealand Car of the Year

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THREE electric vehicles are among the 10 finalists for New Zealand’s most prestigious automotive award.
Candidates to secure this year’s New Zealand Car of the Year are, in alphabetical order: the Audi e-tron, Ford Focus, Holden Acadia, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jaguar I-Pace, Mazda 3, Mercedes GLE, Peugeot 508, Tesla Model 3 and Toyota RAV4.

The e-tron, I-Pace and Model 3 all run purely on battery. The New Zealand Car of the Year is voted on by the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild – professional automotive journalists who test the vehicles in their home environments around the country.

The expert commentators have previously acknowledged the growing importance on electric vehicles in New Zealand, having given the honour to the BMW i3 in 2015.

“Simply having three electric vehicles in the top 10 shows how far this technology has come, and how much New Zealand has embraced it,” New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild president Richard Edwards says.

“Even so, with seven other incredible vehicles in the top 10 they have a challenge ahead.”

The award’s winner will be decided by 21 voting members and announced live on TVNZ One’s Seven Sharp programme in December.

Now in its 31st year,  New Zealand Car of the Year is the country’s most prestigious motoring award, being a truly national prize without commercial ties. The present titleholder is the Subaru Forester.

Criteria span how the vehicle performs its intended role; its styling, interior design and accommodation; fit, finish and quality; ride and refinement; performance; road-holding and handling; value for money; active and passive safety and environmental responsibility.

Motoring commentators recognise Hyundai NZ power play

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Commitment to elevating electric vehicles as relevant new car choices has seen Hyundai New Zealand become the first recipient of a national award recognising automotive innovation. 

The Dave Moore Award was presented to the Auckland-based distributor yesterday. This is a new prize, decided by the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild, which represents the majority of this country’s journalists writing about automotive affairs.

“Hyundai internationally is mounting a $32 billion technology push in this area and it is a great credit that its affiliate here, a wholly New Zealand-owned company, has been an impressively early ambassador for the brand’s latest battery-driven products,” says Guild president Richard Edwards.

Besides electric and self-driving cars, South Korea’s largest car brand is also planning investment spanning the next five years in fields such as artificial intelligence, batteries and hydrogen energy, as well as start-ups.

Within the past two years Hyundai NZ has launched hybrid, plug-in electric and fully electric editions of the Ioniq hatch then followed up with an EV edition of its Kona compact crossover.

The fully electric variant’s delivery of a single charge range of 450 kilometres is a breakthrough in that it truly settles range anxiety and also provisions at a markedly lower price than any other present or immediately impending EV of similar capability.

They have also indicated a willingness to bring the hydrogen fuel cell-powered Nexo SUV to New Zealand for a trial, and have been open on the idea of similarly powered trucks.

“The electric vehicle scene is a hot spot here and Hyundai is very much setting the temperature in the sub-$100,000 sector,” Edwards says.

“Yes, battery technology unavoidably carries a premium, yet the fleet and private sector interest in the Hyundai product is significant enough to suggest that it is clearly not out of the reach of everyday drivers.

“The brand effort here is certainly worthy of celebration, which is why we are delighted it is the first recipient of our award, recognising innovation that moves forward NZ motoring and also honouring a national motoring media identity.”

Dave Moore, of Christchurch, who passed away in May of 2017 at age 67, was born in Wales and became full-time motoring editor for his adopted home town newspaper, The Press, in 1992. He shifted into a national role, until 2015, after that publication became part of what was then Fairfax Media. This, and his involvement with other media, made him a household name. 

“The Dave Moore Award, which is colloquially known as ‘The Ruby’ in reference to his wee dog who was as much a part of his life – and stories – as his family, is in tribute to a colleague whose particular interest was in technology advancement and design,” Edwards says.

Dave’s widow, Trish, was a guest of the Guild for the handover, to Hyundai New Zealand general manager Andy Sinclair.

“It’s an honour to receive this inaugural Dave Moore Award in recognition of our commitment to new technology and innovation,” says Sinclair.  “We are committed to leading the charge in electric vehicles with Hyundai New Zealand being among the first in the world to introduce the IONIQ which has become this country’s best-selling new 100% electric vehicle. We also recently launched the Kona, New Zealand’s first compact electric SUV to unprecedented demand.” Sinclair adds, “It’s an incredibly exciting time for New Zealand and we look forward to the continued growth of Electric Vehicles and other alternative fuel technology.”

The Guild intends to present the Dave Moore Award annually, with Edwards noting that the level of automotive technology upload into New Zealand has historically run at high pace.

* Feature photo: Hyundai New Zealand general manager Andy Sinclair, Trish Moore and NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild president Richard Edwards.

Motoring commentators commend Murph and Holden NZ

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Instigating a national driver training programme, backed by Holden New Zealand, has put Greg Murphy in the winner’s seat with Kiwi motoring commentators.

The motorsport icon today became the latest recipient of a prestigious prize presented by the New Zealand Motoring Writers Guild. The Neil Nelson award is presented to the person judged to have made a significant contribution to the motoring industry.

This year the spotlight falls on Holden Street Smart, a road safety initiative designed with young drivers in mind, the goal being to reduce accidents and fatalities among this at-risk group. Operational since February on 2018, this national programme has already steered hundreds of youngsters toward safer driving practice.

The initiative has a high-profile brand ambassador in Murphy, a four-time Bathurst winner and national motorsport hero. The Hawke’s Bay champion racer who made a career out of racing V8 supercars after winning the New Zealand Grand Prix and now mainly works as a motorsports’ commentator – though last year he tried rallying at national level – is a long-time passionate advocate for road safety.

A road crash he had at age 19, during the first year of his circuit motor-racing career, was a huge wake-up call.  It triggered realisation that, even though his own skills had been sharpened by competition experience in karts and a Formula Ford single seater, he was still deficient in basic abilities that would have avoided the smash, in which a friend was injured. 

“The New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild is proud to name Greg as the 2018 recipient of this very special award,” says Guild president Richard Edwards, Auckland. “The Neil Nelson Award is not just about achievement. It’s about going that extra mile to help other people.

“To be nominated it’s not enough to just do your job or your calling – it requires passion and commitment above and beyond. “Greg spent his life pursuing the motor sport dream; but almost right from the start of his illustrious career he has also been a road safety advocate.

“Holden Street Smart, in which young drivers take part in a day-long course covering 10 practical exercises in their own cars, accompanied by a parent or caregiver, represents the ultimate expression of his views.

“Our Guild is impressed by a programme is about experiencing a variety of scenarios and situations, exploring the limitations of themselves and their cars in a controlled environment, alongside experienced instructors.

“We applaud Greg and Holden New Zealand for this programme.” Murphy says he is honoured to be a recipient of the Neil Nelson Award.

“I am honoured, and pleasantly surprised – having Holden Street Smart recognised by the guild is fantastic. The story has been received and people are aware of what we are trying to achieve.” Murphy is passionate about the need for broader access to driver training.

“Holden Street Smart is not research being done to find out if training works. It is 100% guaranteed to make a difference.” He called on the government to change the focus of their road safety efforts. “I think focus needs to be put on driver training as a whole. Spending money on roads is one thing, but if people continue to do the same things they are now, then we shouldn’t expect the Road Toll Stats to change much.”

Holden New Zealand managing director Marc Ebolo welcomed the recognition of Holden Street Smart.
“This award is testament that what we’re doing is being noticed and is making a tangible difference to the skill levels of those who participate in the course, enhancing not only their likelihood of knowing what to do in a particular situation but hopefully avoiding it altogether,” Ebolo says.
“We worked with Greg and other supporters of the programme for more than two years to ensure we were launching the very best initiative to support development of young drivers and foster their confidence on the roads.”

The award, started in 1998, honours the memory of the late Neil Nelson of Palmerston North, a former president of the Guild.  It was presented yesterday to Murphy and Marc Ebolo, managing director of Holden New Zealand. Previous recipients include ex Formula One driver Chris Amon and motor retail supremo Colin Giltrap.  The first of the nine preceding winners was another race car driver who followed a similar path to Murphy’s.  Christchurch’s John Osborne dedicated 22 years of his life to developing and running Proactive Drive, keeping teenage kids safe by giving them the skills they need to handle their car.

*Feature image: (from left) Holden New Zealand managing director Marc Ebolo, NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild member Jacqui Madelin, Greg Murphy and NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild president Richard Edwards.

** photo credit, Peter Meecham


Motorsport legend Greg Murphy

Family favourite takes New Zealand Car of the Year

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A family-friendly SUV has beaten tough competitors to win the 2018 New Zealand Car of the Year.
The Forester is the first Subaru to take the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild’s accolade and also only the second sports utility to take the prize, the first being the 2017 holder, Skoda’s Kodiaq.
Ten finalists competed for the Peter Greenslade Trophy, which is in its 31st year and stands as the country’s only independent motoring award, with guild president Richard Edwards noting that voting was very close.
The Guild represents professional motoring commentators from as far north as Kerikeri and as far south as Dunedin.

Edwards, of Auckland, says Forester is the kind of vehicle Kiwi buyers now want. “It offers the durability and functionality Kiwi families desire, also now implementing next generation safety technology. And in starting at $39,990 it is truly affordable for new car buyers.”
New Zealand Car of the Year convener David Thomson, Dunedin, noted Subaru has kept the Forester true to its go-anywhere roots. “On gravel or even unpaved roads, the new Forester is – by lifestyle SUV standards – exceptionally accomplished and surefooted.”
Guild vice president Richard Bosselman, Palmerston North, said the latest model’s cutting-edge safety technology deserves attention. “Traditional toughness and real-deal ability keeps Forester sweet with loyalists, genuine cutting-edge safety and assists deserve attention from a whole new audience.”
Subaru of New Zealand managing director Wallis Dumper commented that if New Zealand motoring journalists considered the car the best then “who are we to argue?”
“We … knew when the fifth-generation Subaru Forester arrived that we had a pretty special vehicle on our hands.”
The model is Subaru’s strongest seller globally and he envisaged this prestigious award would further elevate its status
“Thank you to the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild for taking the time to evaluate the Subaru Forester and recognise how incredible it is.”
Other finalists this year were the BMW X3, Holden Commodore, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stinger, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Skoda Karoq, Toyota Camry and a pair of Volvos, the XC40 and XC60.
The award was presented on TVNZ’s Seven Sharp current affairs programme tonight.

Television announcement for New Zealand Car of the Year

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The New Zealand Car of the Year, involving the majority of the country’s motoring commentators, is being announced on one of the country’s highest-rating television shows.
The vehicle that has won the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild’s annual award will be revealed live on TV One’s Seven Sharp on Wednesday, December 5.
Host Hilary Barry’s experience of the 10 finalists for the Peter Greenslade Trophy will also be part of the reveal.
Guild president Richard Edwards is excited by the opportunity partnering with Seven Sharp presents for an award in its 31st year.
He notes this is the first time the prize giving has achieved a live television reveal.
“Working with Seven Sharp allows us to bring the award to a new audience, and present the award in a new and fun way,” Edwards says.
“Our members’ media outlets have great coverage across the country already, and this is icing on the cake.
“Having Hilary Barry experience all 10 finalists and capturing it for television has been much fun. She was not only hilarious but genuine and insightful.”
The Guild has members from all over the country, from Kawakawa to Otago. Those eligible to vote have driven each candidate vehicle for a determined period on their home roads. They score on 10 different categories, including fitness for use, value for money and environmental responsibility.
Voting closes tonight, November 30.
The finalists in alphabetical order are the BMW X3, Holden Commodore, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stinger, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Skoda Karoq, Subaru Forester, Toyota Camry and two Volvos, the XC40 and XC60.
For more information contact Richard Edwards, 021 55 66 55.

2018 New Zealand Car of the Year finalists strong on safety

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The ten finalists for the New Zealand Car of the Year remind that advanced safety technology is no longer reserved for high-end vehicles.

A common factor binding all potential candidates for the national award, meted annually by the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild, is a high level of safety technology, guild president Richard Edwards says.

He notes this year’s finalists – in no particular order being the BMW X3, Holden Commodore, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stinger, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Skoda Karoq, Subaru Forester, Toyota Camry and a pair of Volvos, the XC40 and XC60 – all have as standard forms of lane keeping assist and autonomous emergency braking.

“These types of technology save lives,” says Guild President Richard Edwards.

“It is great to see Kiwi families and employers can easily access vehicles with this level of safety at relatively affordable prices.”

AEB is particularly relevant, designed to allow a vehicle to self-engage emergency braking in event of a potential collision event with a vehicle or even a pedestrian or cyclist if the driver has not reacted. It is now a required feature to earn a maximum score in Australasian and European NCAP crash testing.

Edwards reminds that a recent European study cited that low-speed AEB technology had potential reduce the number and severity of rear-end crashes by 38 percent.

With fuel prices on the rise, he said it is also interesting half the vehicles either have, or are set to have, an electrified or hybrid option.

The Kona is available in a fully-electric version now. The X3 will come in an electric version in 2020, preceded by an equivalent XC40. That car’s big brother, the XC60, offers as a plug-in hybrid. The Camry continues with the option of a hybrid drivetrain.

“New Zealand is becoming a leader in the adoption of alternative energy vehicles and distributors are working hard to meet demand,” Edwards says.

“Kiwi buyers have more options for this than our neighbour across the Tasman.”

The New Zealand Car of the Year has been given out annually since 1988 and is considered the country’s most prestigious motoring award since it is a truly national prize, without commercial ties.

The award is decided by motoring commentators from throughout New Zealand and results from them having assessed the candidate vehicle in their local areas over an extended period.

Criteria range from how the performs its intended role; its styling, interior design and accommodation; fit, finish and quality; ride and refinement; performance; road-holding and handling; value for money; active and passive safety and environmental responsibility.

The most affordable car this year is the Kona, which starts from $31,990, with the most expensive the X3, available from $94,650. Five of the 10 finalists are available for less than $50,000.

The New Zealand Car of the Year is to be announced in early December, with the winner to receive the Peter Greenslade Trophy. The current recipient is the Skoda Kodiaq.