Six carmakers have taken home top prizes in Australian market research company Canstar Blue’s ‘Innovation Excellence’ awards for the automotive industry.
This year marks the first time the Innovation Excellence title has been awarded in the motoring arena, with judgements based on buyer and industry feedback.
The new category joins Canstar’s existing automotive awards, which cover customer satisfaction for vehicles and market segments, along with the retail and after-sales experience.
Hyundai, Subaru, Ford, Tesla, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo were the big winners in the Innovation Excellence awards, while technology supplier Bosch also landed an award for an Australian-developed system.
Hyundai’s iCare warranty, capped-price servicing and roadside assistance was judged the most ‘innovative’ in the hard-fought after-sales service arena.
The award will be a welcome one for the Korean carmaker, after a 5000-strong Canstar Blue customer satisfaction survey late last year saw Hyundai rank behind Ford, Holden, Honda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota.
But, while that survey’s results were drawn from buyers who have bought a Hyundai in the three years prior to last year’s After Sales Service award, this new Innovation Excellence award was judged specifically on the merits of an upgraded iCare service launched in August last year.
That service includes lifetime capped-price servicing with annual or 15-month intervals (although based on a ‘menu’ style, see our breakdown here), along with a five-year warranty and 10 years of roadside assistance.
Other winners included Ford’s MyKey system, which finally came to Australia with the Fiesta ST in 2013 before joining more models in 2014 and 2015.
Targeted at parents of young drivers, MyKey allows owners to sync a specific key fob with an in-car system that can set restrictions on maximum speed and radio volume, among other functions.
Subaru’s camera-based EyeSight collision avoidance system was also awarded.
Available in the Liberty and Outback models, EyeSight packs technologies like adaptive cruise control, brake-light recognition, autonomous braking and throttle control, lane assistance and steering assist to reduce the likelihood and severity of a collision.
The new Volvo XC90 SUV’s Intellisafe Pedestrian Detection, which works in a similar fashion to avoid collisions with motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, also picked up an Innovation Excellence award of its own.
Mercedes-Benz was recognised for the phone-like Touchpad infotainment control system in its latest models, while Tesla’s Model S was awarded for innovation in… just about everything it offers. (Catch our Model S review here.)
Australian 'Back Over Avoidance' Awarded
German company Bosch, a long-time innovator and supplier to the automotive industry, was awarded for its Back Over Avoidance system.
The technology works along the same lines as the increasingly common collision-avoiding autonomous emergency braking, using cameras and sensors to detect danger behind the vehicle and immediately apply the brakes.
Importantly, the system was developed right here in Australia at Bosch's Melbourne facilities as part of the government's Automotive New Markets Initiative program.
“The Back Over Avoidance system has been a major project over the last 18 months for the Bosch Australia Automotive safety team and we are extremely proud of this innovation,“ Bosch Australia president Gavin Smith said.
Bosch is not the first company to develop such a system for reversing safety, but as an independent parts supplier, Back Over Avoidance could soon spread across the market.
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