• AJAC Innovation Awards

Automobile Journalists Celebrate Innovation

Annual awards recognize the best in automotive advances

Lee Bailie By: Lee Bailie February 17, 2020
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The automotive industry has a long history of pioneering innovation, with advances that have existed for so long many of us take them for granted. From seat belts and disc brakes to airbags, rear view cameras and advanced all-wheel drive systems, the rate of technological advancement in the industry is relentless.

With that in mind, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), created a new set of awards in 2018 to highlight new advances in automotive technology. Known as the AJAC Innovation Awards, these honours are broken down into three categories: Best Green Innovation, Best Safety Innovation and Best Technical Innovation.

“These innovations represent the most significant advancements made by the automotive industry for the 2020 model year in the opinion of our esteemed panel of judges,” said Jim Kerr, Chair of the AJAC Innovation Awards.

“We are delighted to be able to identify these technologies for Canadian consumers as features to consider when they shop for their next vehicles.”

Manufacturers are invited to submit entries for their most innovative technologies that are then evaluated by an expert panel of AJAC members that are technology specialists. Briefs prepared by the automakers for each entry are reviewed by the panel who then pare each category down to a shortlist of finalists.

Automaker reps for each finalist prepare a presentation for the jurors, and answer questions before the panelists deliberate and then vote by secret ballot. The results are compiled and verified by accounting firm KPMG, which also performs the same role for AJAC’s Canadian Car of the Year program.

For 2020, the winners were announced during evaluations for the Canadian Car of the Year program last Fall. They are all on display at this year’s Canadian International AutoShow.

The winners in each of the three categories were:

Best Green Innovation

AJAC Innovation Awards

The Porsche Taycan is the first production vehicle that utilizes an 800-volt battery instead of the usual electric car standard which is 400 volts. Two big benefits for the 800-volt battery are its lighter weight and faster charging times. On the charging front, the Taycan’s battery can achieve 100 kilometres of range in just five minutes. With fast charging capability of up to 270 kilowatts through liquid-cooled charging cables, the Taycan is now the fastest-charging vehicle on the market.

Hyundai’s Smart Regenerative Braking and Mitsubishi Motors’ Outlander PHEV Fast Charging were the other finalists.

Best Safety Innovation

Blind View Monitor

Hyundai’s Blind View Monitor provides an additional side view of the car by streaming a live shot of the driver’s blind spot directly into the instrument cluster. Once the turn signal is engaged, the monitor will display the corresponding side of road on to the cluster in order to help the driver execute a lane change safely. The system uses the 360-degree cameras that make up Hyundai’s Surround View Monitor system, which is used mostly as a parking aid but also offers views of the left and right sides of the vehicle. Blind View Monitor is available on the 2020 Palisade and 2020 Sonata.

Cadillac’s Night Vision system and Chevrolet’s Buckle to Drive system were also finalists.

Best Technical Innovation

AJAC Innovation Awards

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) Blind-spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Path and Trailer Detection featured on Ram trucks (1500 and HD models) was co-developed with FCA supplier Continental to scan blind spot areas behind the truck to assist safer maneuvering. The system automatically senses and accounts for the length of a trailer, which Ram’s competitors require the driver to do manually, while enabling safe execution of lane changes while towing.

General Motors’ Transparent Trailer View, Cadillac’s Super Cruise with upgrades and Hyundai’s Remote Start Parking Assist were the other contenders.

By Lee Bailie / Special to wheels.ca 

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