Electric cars make inroads into SGMW New Year Honours list 2019

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With apologies to Gary Numan and his 1979 chart topper, members of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers have posed the question “Are Trends Electric?” after making the Hyundai Kona EV their Car of the Year and the Honda Urban EV their One to Watch 2019 award winner.
The Jaguar I-PACE, Audi e-tron, Tesla Model 3 all-electric models were also ‘mentioned in dispatches’ in the SGMW’s New Year Honours List 2019, suggesting that electric cars are winning the hearts and minds of discerning motoring writers.

But four of the seven SGMW award categories also recognise motoring PR excellence, and Honda triumphed here too with PR Communications Manager (Cars) Simon Branney and Press Fleet Officer John O’Brien each winning awards.

And Kia underlined its consistent service to the motoring press by retaining its ‘Best PR Office’ title from last year, in what eventually became a two-horse race with Suzuki as challenges from Ford, Volvo, Audi, and Volkswagen fell away in the final voting.

SGMW Chairman Ian Robertson highlighted how electric cars are being taken more seriously:

“As with any new technology, early adopters with faith – and the cash – have bought into electric cars, but it’s up to us hard-nosed motoring writers to ‘pressure test’ whether electric cars really are starting to deliver, and votes in only our second New Year Honours List seems to endorse this, and particularly on the issue of range anxiety.

“But the awards were conceived last year mainly to recognise the talent and best efforts of our colleagues on the PR side of the motor industry, and it’s pleasing to see that Kia has kept up its excellent standards and retained ‘Best PR Office’.

“It was also good to see the ‘Honda boys’ rewarded, with their wins also reflecting well on a team re-vitalised by Louisa Rowntree’s return to the industry as Honda’s Head of PR in late 2017, which included beefing up Simon Branney’s role.

“And well done Vauxhall, for taking the PR Innovation award with its heritage fleet. Of course, the fleet is not an innovation – in fact, its established excellence has inspired other brands to start their own fleets – but members recognise how Vauxhall’s team use both the Luton site and the amazing range of vehicles (the Lotus Carlton probably being the most sought after) so effectively to underpin its PR activities.

“However, as we review 2018 and look ahead to 2019, we thank all those who have gone beyond the normal of call of duty to help us do our job.”

The SGMW New Year Honours 2019 in full and key comments from Group members:

SGMW Best PR Newcomer – John O’Brien, Honda

Best PR Newcomer – awarded to someone who made a special impact in his or her liaison with the media during the past year and is either new to the industry PR scene or has taken on a new role/position.

WINNER: John O’Brien – Honda Press Fleet Officer
“He made certain everyone was well catered for on the recent CR-V Hybrid launch”
“Has quickly made an impact”

RUNNER UP: Synneva Spittel – Vauxhall Press and Heritage Fleet Administrator
“Has hit the ground running and seems wise beyond her years.”
“Synneva has really impressed me with her efficiency, ‘can-do’ attitude and general cheery helpfulness.”

‘SGMW OBE’ – Simon Branney

The SGMW OBE (Operating Beyond Expectation) – awarded to anyone acting above and beyond the call of PR duty during the past year. It can be for consistent high performance, memorable one-off effort, or a thoughtful gesture towards one of our members caught in a bind.

WINNER: Simon Branney – Honda PR Communications Manager (Cars)
“Simon Branney just is…brilliant, hilarious and injects a bit of joy”
“One of the best in the industry”

RUNNER UP: Kelly Miller – Volvo Media Events Manager
“Superb PR, particularly re V60 launch this year”

Mentioned in despatches:
Caroline Burnell (Mercedes-Benz Vans)
Alun Parry (Suzuki)

SGMW Best PR Office – Kia (headed by Steve Kitson)

Best PR Office – awarded to the operation consistently delivering the best all-round or forward-thinking service to SGMW throughout the year.

“Still consistently top-level PR thanks to Mr. Kitson and team”

“For doing the work of 10 people with just two and always being cheerful”

Mentioned in despatches:

Best in PR Innovation – awarded for an unusual or particularly excellent launch, driving route, or any imaginative addition to an event of the PR year in general.

WINNER: Vauxhall (particularly for its Heritage Fleet)
“Makes best use of its excellent heritage facilities”
“Vauxhall’s heritage fleet is one of the best out there, and Vauxhall puts it to good use too. The range of cars is huge, and Vauxhall’s willingness to see the cars out and about should be applauded”

“Mazda events are generally good because of the amount of driving; I’m not that fond of ‘unusual’, I just want plenty of driving time”
“For the MX-5 launch: luxury pod ‘glamping’ in Ireland, bubble top sky view accommodation to echo open top car”

Mentioned in despatches:
Volvo (for V60 launch)
McLaren (for Senna launch)
Land Rover (for Evoque launch)

‘Dark Horse’ of the Year – a car that surprised SGMW members, either by its arrival or just how good it was.

WINNER: Suzuki Jimny
“So, so cool”

RUNNER UP: Peugeot 508
“A highly charismatic newcomer, better than many expected, and with the ace 508 SW to come.”
“A massive leap forward over its predecessor: pretty, capable, and the SW model is really spacious.”

Mentioned in despatches:
Volkswagen up! GTI I
Jaguar I-PACE

Honda Urban EV Concept unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show

One to Watch 2019 – the car that SGMW members most look forward to driving in the coming year.

WINNER: Honda Urban EV

RUNNER UP: Porsche 911 ‘992’

Mentioned in despatches:
Audi e-tron
BMW 3 Series
Tesla Model 3

SGMW CoTY – Hyundai Kona Electric

SGMW Car of the Year

WINNER: Hyundai Kona Electric

RUNNER UP: Ford Focus

Mentioned in despatches:
Volvo XC40
Alpine A110

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