FOCUS makes history!

FOCUS makes history!

I am delighted to announce THE most significant event in the history of this magazine. The event to which I allude is also momentous for the South African trucking industry …

FOCUS is an Associate Member of the International Truck of the Year (IToY) jury! We received the exceptionally good news just as this issue of the magazine was about to go to print. It is a truly tremendous development because it means that the trucking world has recognised the significance of this magazine and the South African trucking industry.

This is the first time that a magazine or a country outside of Europe has been represented on this prestigious body. A long and extremely strenuous process preceded the announcement, which has enormous implications for our magazine and our industry.

But, before I discuss those implications, a little bit of background …

EXPLAINING IToY

IToY is all about recognising excellence, and the IToY jury presents a highly sought-after annual Truck of the Year award each year. It goes without saying that this is the most prestigious prize on the commercial vehicle calendar … by far! The award is presented to the truck launched in the previous
12 months that is deemed by the IToY jury to have made the greatest contribution to road transport efficiency.

“In reaching its decision, the jury considers the technical, economical and practical qualities of the candidate vehicles. More recently, safety and environmental aspects of those vehicles have played an increasingly important role in the judging procedure,” explains former IToY chairman Tiit Tamme.

It all started in Great Britain in 1976 when Truck Magazine’s first editor, the late Pat Kennett, was testing the then new Seddon Atkinson SA200 in northern Britain. According to Tamme, Kennett found it to be highly innovative and ahead of its competitors when it came to comfort and safety. “And thus the idea was born to create an award which recognised the latest technical developments in new commercial vehicle design and truck technology, especially with regard to what benefits they offer to operators and driver,” Tamme recalls.

Truck Magazine’s publisher, Andrew Frankl, enthusiastically supported Kennett’s idea. And together they decided to create the “Truck of the Year” award.

In 1977 the very first award was handed over to Seddon Atkinson to honour the best new truck on the market from the owners’ point of view. “It was a small step towards IToY, being at first a purely British affair, but that changed the following year when Kennett and Frankl started looking for qualified colleagues in other European countries who shared their vision,” says Tamme.

By mid-1977 the heart of the very first “international jury group” was created. Members at that time were Axel Mortensen in Denmark, Joe Tierlynck from Belgium, Johannes Graf von Saurma from Germany, Dick Bergeren from Holland, Tiit Tamme in Sweden and, of course, the creator and first chairman of the IToY jury, Pat Kennett, representing Great Britain. All of them were highly professional truck journalists with wide experience in testing and evaluating heavy trucks within their own countries.

The jury continued to grow rapidly and for many years covered 13 countries in Western Europe. The trophy design used today was originally created on the initiative of Johannes Graf von Saurma, the jury member in Germany.

Meanwhile, with the opening up of Eastern Europe in the 1990s it became an ambition to involve these newly emerging markets with their new magazines in order to create an IToY jury that represented the whole of Europe. The first East European member was elected in 1998 and represented Slovakia. In the following years they were joined by jurors from Russia, Poland and Hungary.

And now it is time for the next step in the evolution of IToY. Until the end of 2013, the jury was made up of leading road transport editors and senior journalists representing 25 countries throughout Europe.

However, as IToY chairman Gianenrico Griffini, notes, nothing stands still. “Since our very first award was presented back in 1977, truck manufacturing has become far more ‘globalised’. In recognition of that fact, we have expanded our IToY group to three major truck markets in which European manufacturers already compete strongly. By creating the new category of Associate Member we intend to make IToY an even more effective organisation, reaching even more transport operators well beyond its current European territory,” he explains.

THE BIG NEWS!

So who are these Associate Members? There are three newcomers to the IToY fold: one magazine was selected from South Africa (you know which one was chosen now!), one was selected from China and one from Australia. They are Commercial Vehicle and Diesel respectively, represented by Shang Yanzhang and Steve Brooks.

FOCUS makes history!The practical implications of this announcement are immense. FOCUS will have exclusive access to all IToY editorial material gathered during the year. “Moreover, IToY jurors will also be looking to run ‘local’ stories supplied by our Associate Members in our own European IToY magazines,” reveals Griffini. This means global exposure for the South African trucking industry!

I am tremendously excited at the prospect of being included in this elite network. As Tamme notes, the jury also meets several times a year to discuss the current nominees as well as gathering for various functions including new product launches. “It has become a truly ‘international’ network for the exchange of information on road transport as well as a forum for co-operation on international truck testing. It also meets regularly with legislators and industry representative bodies to help promote road transport. In this respect, it is a unique body with great value to the members,” he comments.

Naturally, I hope to be present at as many events as possible – notwithstanding my rather challenging geographical location. I see considerable merit in networking with other members, thereby bringing the South African trucking industry even closer to its European counterparts.

Furthermore, I know that interacting with other members will result in simply sensational reading material! Significantly, FOCUS is the one and only magazine that will have access to these networking opportunities – not only now, but moving into the future too. This really is a coup for our magazine and I am ever so proud of the FOCUS team.

I am also proud – and humbled – to be part of such an exclusive “club”. Jury members are, after all, the crème de la crème of the world’s trucking media. As Tamme concludes: “As all the countries within the European Union draw ever closer together and, as truck manufacturing becomes increasingly a ‘global’ pursuit, it’s obvious that what first started in northern Britain in 1976, more than 30 years ago, has grown beyond all recognition from its humble roots. Today, International Truck of the Year is a mature and highly-respected institution within the European road transport industry.”

We are SO proud to be affiliated to that institution.

Previous winners

These are the last 10 winners of the International Truck of the Year accolade:
2005 Scania R-Series
2006 MAN TGL
2007 DAF XF 105
2008 MAN TG Series
2009 Mercedes-Benz Actros III
2010 Scania New R-Series
2011 Mercedes-Benz New Atego range
2012 Mercedes-Benz New Actros
2013 Iveco Stralis Hi-Way
2014 Volvo FH Series

The next winner will be announced at the IAA in Hannover. Watch this space!

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