Nov 112014

L-R: Gerry Aquino-AFPC Awards Committee Chairman, Daniel M. Isla-Lexus Manila President, Ray Butch Gamboa-STV Chairman and CEO

The auto industry together with the motoring media came to witness the awarding of recognition to the year’s most popular automobile models as chosen by the people through public voting and actual sales. The awards night of the 2014-2015 Auto Focus People’s Choice Awards happened last Thursday, November 6 at The Venue of Prism Plaza, SM Mall of Asia.

On its 10th year, the distinguished awards, which are decided by the public, have been joined since 2012 with those chosen with discern by the motoring media—the Media’s Choice Awards. Not to be confused with the People’s Choice Awards, those handed by motoring journalists go through an infinitely more stringent voting process. To begin with the awards are given not based on popularity but for vehicle’s exceptional design, engine performance, value for money and outstanding safety features, attributes that can not be discerned through cursory study but through hands on experience or test drives. Further more, winners are not determined by plurality of votes but by their majority. For a winner to be confirmed it should have at lest 50 percent of all the votes cast by motoring journalists that participated.

The winners of the People’s Choice Awards are determined by a public poll conducted through votes cast from July to September on Facebook combined by actual sales as documented by Stradcom, the LTO’s IT provider from records of officially registered vehicles in the country from January to September.

For the first time a separate People’s Choice award for Luxury Automobile of the Year distinct from the Standard models, has been created by its organizers, Sunshine Television (STV). Considering that the equation for determining the most popular automobiles in any given year involves the recorded sales of each model combined by the votes cast for it, pricey high-end models would never stand a chance in sales numbers compared to the standard models that go at very popular prices—it can never be an “apples to apples” contest between the two categories—thus the Luxury Automobile of the Year Award was born. 

This year’s Auto Focus People’s Choice Awards (AFPCA) was record-setting with Toyota coming up with a dual award—the Vios winning the Standard Automobile of the Year Award and the Lexus IS350 with the first Luxury Automobile of the Year title.

This is the 3rd year that the Vios’ romped off with the Automobile of the Year (AoY) title as well as lording it over in the sub-compact category for the same number of years. This feat automatically enshrines it in the AFPCA Hall of Fame. It is the first AoY  “hall of famer” in the awards’ history. It is joined in the Hall of Fame for 5-time Models of the Year awardees Hyundai Starex for vans, Isuzu Crosswind for AUVs and the Toyota Camry for mid sized sedans. These models can however still be voted for Automobile of the Year as their 5-year wins were achieved as Models of the Year, while the Vios can literally “rest on its laurels.”

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On the other hand, although it is the first year for the Lexus IS350 to win in its category of luxury compact sedan, its combined sales and votes this year have catapulted it to earn the distinction of being the first model to be bestowed the title of Luxury Automobile of the Year.

Sifting through the figures and data of this year’s conduct of the search for the most popular automobiles, I gathered some interesting observations, which I’d like to share with you, like; the Vios registered an overwhelming 11,768 statistical points (combined sales and votes), which is 4,365.8 more than the far second, which is also a Toyota, the Fortuner.

On close shaves, there’s the Toyota Fortuner with 7,417 points, which are only 185.4 points over the Mitsubishi Montero Sport that has dominated the category of mid-size SUV for 3 straight years. There’s also the Toyota 86’s meager 28.4-point advantage over the Ford Mustang in the sports car category.    

The luxury vehicles category, where online votes can be telling factors in determining the winners, has closer shaves. Take the case of the Porsche 911edging out the Mercedes-Benz SLK in the luxury sedan category with 19.8 points despite the latter’s advantage of selling 3 units more. 

A more telling example of how aspirational votes can come into play is the win of the BMW X5 over the Volkswagen Tauoreg decided by a 38-point lead in the luxury midsize SUV category even with the Taoureg registering 14 more units sold over the former.

A real heartbreaker is the mere 3.8 statistical point-margin of the BMW X1 over runner up Audi Q3 in the luxury open class category. 

Now here’s a real bomb blast to demonstrate the power of aspirational votes, which we describe as the expression of online voters of their choices of models that “they really like” barring other factors like “budget” or “need”. In this case aspirational votes cast for the winner thoroughly overturned the advantage of sales. The Lexus LX570 snatched the large SUV model of the year title from the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 with a margin of 36.4 votes in spite of the fact that the latter sold 368 units more than the winning model. With all due respect, although these two models are both Toyota, this particular result is saying that the Land Cruiser registered the overwhelming sales from people who “needed” what it offers like bigger space and ultimate off-roading capabilities and had the “budget” to purchase it but got the voters’ nod from those who really “like” the Lexus 570 but do not have the “need” for the Land Cruiser’s passenger capacity and off-road capabilities nor the “budget” for the Lexus 570—therefore the upending motional votes for the latter. The case of the Vios is a class in itself with its sales too huge an advantage for aspirational votes to neutralize.

        Although we have a decade-old award-giving exercise we refuse to end our learning curve until we come up with the best equation to determine as accurately as possible the country’s most popular vehicles. We have decided to tweak further the exercise with a reversed 60/40 equation in favor of votes over sales. We’ll also try to have several “on site” voting like we did during the PIMS (Philippine International Motor Show) in order to bring the polling exercise closer to the voters, but with a less tedious process like having the voters only click on their choice of Automobile of the Year, which would automatically reflect as a vote for Model of the Year.    

For you to recall, here are the winners of the Auto Focus Automobile of the Year—People’s Choice in its 10 years of existence.

2005 – Nissan X-Trail

2006 – Isuzu Crosswind

2007 – Honda Civic

2008 – Kia Carens

2009 – Hyundai Grand Starex

2010 – Kia Sorento

2011 – Nissan Teana

2012 – Toyota Vios (all the way to 2014)

As for the Media’s Choice Awards, which is definitely of no less importance than the People’s Choice Awards, the recognition given by the motoring media obviously went through a very stringent processing. Proof of this was the time individually spent by the more than 20 print and broadcast motoring journalists composed of auto magazine editors, motoring section editors of major dailies, TV hosts, noted contributing writers, online bloggers, etc. while electronically documenting their choices during voting day held last October 11 at Valle Verde Country Club.

The objective of the awards is to recognize the efforts of the auto manufacturers, importers and distributors to give their customers the best on board and performance features like in design, engine performance, safety features and value for money. The rules of the awards make it more exacting by a provision that requires a model to have at least 50 percent of all votes cast in its particular category to make it an outright winner. This makes winners not determined by a plurality of votes but a majority of the votes cast.

And we note that the journalists are getting more discerning considering that last year only 69 models out of the 84 awards passed the criteria while this year the number of winners have gone down to only 21 with 10 winners from the Standard models category and 11 from the Luxury group.

In the Standard category Ford went home with 5 awards, while Mazda had 3 with 1 for Volkswagen, the relatively new kid on the block.

While among Luxury models, BMW took 5, Honda had 3, Volvo with 2 and 1 for Lexus.

The complete list of winners for both the People’s and Media’s Choice Awards can be found at AutoFocus ONLINE  ( the first and only all-video auto online magazine. We’ll also have a complete print coverage of the awards on a special supplement coming out next week here at the Star, while a more complete account of the highlights shall be aired in a few weeks time on Auto Focus (Channel 13, Sky Cable, Thursdays, 10pm) and shall also be carried subsequently on AutoFocus ONLINE.

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2014 Auto Focus People’s & Media’s Choice Awards and to those who didn’t make it, there’s always next year.

Happy Motoring!!!

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