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Cars.co.za announces judges and categories for its revived Consumer Awards

Cars.co.za recently announced the immediate return of its Consumer Awards, widely regarded as the definitive South African motoring awards programme. Now the time has come to announce the categories and judges of these prestigious awards.

“The Consumer Awards programme has been identified as being integral to the decision-making journey for new-car buyers on Cars.co.za,” explains Hannes Oosthuizen – the project manager of the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards.

The #CarsAwards – as it is widely referred to on social media – is about much more than just handing over trophies to carmakers in February 2024. It’s a 6-month long project that is designed to inform potential car buyers about the vehicles that should appear on their shortlists. Importantly, it also gives consumers a say in the results.

The semi-finalists in each of the 13 categories will be announced on Monday 4 September 2023.

An awards programme that helps the consumer

“It is important to note that #CarsAwards differs from other awards programmes in several key aspects,” says Oosthuizen.

“Firstly, the consumer can get directly involved, by telling us about their experiences with their own vehicles, including the after-sales service they have received,” he adds. Data collection for this important aspect of the #CarsAwards will start soon.

In the final round of judging, the inputs of actual car owners account for 50% of a finalist vehicle’s score. “This is a crucial aspect, because while we can rely on motoring- and other specialist journalists to evaluate the products by testing them, they can’t judge what it’s like to live with a car – owner feedback is equally important,” he explains.

Categories aligned with market hot-spots

Another key difference is that #CarsAwards doesn’t only consider and reward models that have been launched in the past year.

“As the name indicates, these awards are really for the consumer,” Oosthuizen says. “For that reason, all cars on the market are in the running, provided they have been launched locally by 1 September 2023 and comply with the various categories’ criteria. We have tweaked the 13 categories to be even better aligned with where consumers are shopping,” he says.

“We have noticed a significant shift to crossovers in the sub-R500 000 price range, but even within that broad definition there are sub-categories. Consequently, there is a concentration of categories below R500 000, which is an acknowledgement of the tough economic climate out there. Nevertheless, #CarsAwards is also about educating the consumer about what is on the horizon, and as such an EV category has been included for the first time,” explains Oosthuizen.

As before, the 14th and most prestigious category is Brand of the Year. “This is a really special award and 100% based on consumer feedback gained from our Ownership Satisfaction Survey, and also incorporating market share growth and resale data.

The 13 product categories (and examples of contenders) are:

  • ENTRY-LEVEL HATCH (Priced below R250 000, eg. Suzuki Celerio/Renault Kwid)
  • BUDGET HATCH (Priced between R250 000 and R350 000, eg. VW Polo Vivo, Toyota Starlet)
  • COMPACT HATCH (Priced between R350 000 and R500 000, eg. VW Polo, Opel Corsa, Honda Fit)
  • ENTRY-LEVEL CROSSOVER (Priced between R250 000 and R350 000, eg. Nissan Magnite, Toyota Urban Cruiser, Chery Tiggo4 Pro)
  • COMPACT FAMILY CAR (Priced between R350 000 and R500 000, eg. Haval Jolion, Toyota Corolla Cross, Renault Captur)
  • FAMILY CAR (Priced between R600 000 and R800 000, eg. Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4, Haval H6)
  • PREMIUM CROSSOVER (Priced between R700 000 and R1m, eg. BMW X1, Mercedes GLB, Audi Q3)
  • EXECUTIVE SUV (Priced between R1m and R1.3m, eg. BMW X3, Mercedes GLC, Volvo XC60)
  • PREMIUM SUV (Priced between R1.3m and 1.8m, eg. BMW X5, Mercedes GLE, Land Rover Defender)
  • ADVENTURE SUV (Priced between R800 000 and R1.1m, eg. Ford Everest, Toyota Fortuner)
  • PERFORMANCE CAR (Priced below R1m, eg. Hyundai i30N, Subaru WRX, VW Golf R, Toyota GR Corolla)
  • LEISURE DOUBLE CAB (Priced above R800 000, eg. Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max, Toyota Hilux)
  • EV (Priced below R1.3m, eg. Mini Cooper SE, Mercedes EQA, Volvo XC40, BMW iX1)

Timelines

As before, there are 4 phases to the #CarsAwards process.

  • 1 September 2023. The Cars.co.za extended editorial team meets in Cape Town and debates all vehicles in the South African new vehicle market, within the defined categories and against the category criteria. All vehicles launched by 1 September 2023 will be considered. The top 5 in each category is determined by consensus and not a secret vote to ensure rigorous analysis and debate. The 5 semi-finalists will be announced on Monday, 4 September 2023.
  • 2 October 2023. The same Cars.co.za extended editorial team meets in Cape Town and votes on the vehicles in the individual categories to determine the finalists (3 per category).
  • 2-3 November 2023. The 39 finalist vehicles (3 per category, 13 categories) are tested back-to-back at Gerotek in Gauteng.
  • February 2024. Announcement of all winners.

Respected, influential judges

In building the judging panel, the goal was to achieve a balance of motoring expertise (particularly in the first two phases of the programme, which determine the finalists) and respected non-motoring, highly analytical media professionals.

“It is absolutely crucial that motoring journalists’ opinions are supplemented by those of non-motoring media professionals, who, in many ways, represent the consumer at the test days,” explains Oosthuizen.

“As these Awards are designed to be of maximum benefit to the consumer, it is also critical that as many South Africans as possible know about the results,” says Oosthuizen. “Our panel of judges has been selected with that in mind, and consequently you will find a mix of new and traditional media, print, broadcast and social media specialists,” he explains.

The judges for the 2023/2024 Cars.co.za Consumer Awards are:

  • Ashley Oldfield (Cars.co.za)
  • David Taylor (Cars.co.za)
  • Gero Lilleike (Cars.co.za)
  • Ciro De Siena (Cars.co.za)
  • Jacob Moshokoa (EWN)
  • Wendy Knowler (Consumer Specialist – 702/Cape Talk/Sunday Times)
  • Brenwin Naidu (Sowetan, Sunday Times)
  • Muzi Sambo (Independent – Youtube)
  • MrHowMuch (Independent – Youtube/Social)
  • Rebaneilwe Semakane (Social, Voice of Wits)
  • Juliet McGuire (Independent – Cape Talk)
  • Nafisa Akabor (Tech Expert)
  • Phuti Mpyane (Business Day)
  • Lerato Matebese (Top Gear)
  • Kumbi Mtshakazi (Kumbi-M on Cars)
  • Mpho Mahlangu (Independent – Social)
  • Tshidi Malebana (Independent – Social)
  • Sibonelo Myeni (uKhozi FM, iMoto)
  • Brendon Staniforth (Maroela Media)
  • Clement Manyathela (702)

To follow developments regarding the 2023/24 Cars.co.za Consumer Awards, keep an eye on #CarsAwards on most social media channels.

Cars.co.za announces judges and categories for its revived Consumer Awards
04/11/2020 – #CarsAwards (Photo by Roarke Bouffe / Cars.co.za)
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Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa
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