Electric cars charged to the top spots in the 2024 Southern Group of Motoring Writers New Year Honours.
The SGMW annual awards, the first of the year, recognise the outstanding efforts of manufacturers, PR teams and individuals who excelled with magnificent models, memorable motoring and help SGMW members over the past 12 months.
The awards are voted for by SGMW members, many of whom have experienced the news cars at manufacturer launches and driving days, and attended the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) north and south test days.
SGMW chairman Ian Robertson said: “Our New Year Honours are held in high esteem by the manufacturers and their PR teams. Winning one is a great way to kick off the new year.
“This year there were some really tight results so it was a good job that most of our members voted in as many categories as possible.
“Electric vehicles are gaining a big foothold in the new car market so it is no surprise that they were popular choices in the three categories for vehicles.
“But don’t write off petrol and diesel cars just yet as traditional internal combustion engine models also found favour with our electorate,” he added.
And it’s also new year, new award.
The SGMW is launching a new accolade, the Chairman’s Award, to honour someone who has given extraordinary service to the automotive industry, a particular manufacturer, or been a very special friend to our group.
To recognise his sterling service to the industry, the first Chairman’s Award goes to John Handcock, Head of PR at Citroën, who retired in November 2023 after more than 30 years with the French brand. Having previously worked within the sales, product, and fleet departments, he joined the press office in the summer of 2009 and has been a good friend and supporter of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers over the years. SGMW Chairman Ian Robertson commented: “John Handcock will be an extremely hard act to follow and has been a brilliant public relations leader and friend. On a personal note, I will miss him enormously, with it feeling like the end of an era. On behalf of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers, we send our sincere best wishes to him for his retirement from Stellantis.”
The full results for the SGMW New Year Honours 2024, with opinions from voting members, are:
BEST PR NEWCOMER – someone who made a special impact in liaising 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 – Lucinda Inggs (Stellantis)
“She was an absolute star during a very long day travelling to Paris to see the Citroen eC3, coping with all sorts of delays, traffic and other problems.”
Runner-up – Brad Beningfield (Honda UK)
BEST PR OFFICE – awarded to the operation consistently delivering the best all-round or forward-thinking service to SGMW throughout the year.
Winner – Kia UK
“Always helpful, you are always assured a high standard of service from the Kia UK press office and, with specially-organised driving days for the Southern Group of Motoring Writers, we get to sample the latest vehicles in a relaxed environment.”
Runner-up – Toyota
THE SGMW OBE (OPERATING BEYOND EXPECTATION) – for acting above and beyond the call of PR duty during the past year. It can be for consistent high performance, a memorable one-off effort or a thoughtful gesture towards one of our members caught in a bind.
Winner – Graeme Fudge, PR director, and the Mazda UK team
When a deadly earthquake forced Mazda’s Epic Drive through the Atlas Mountains to be cancelled, Graeme, his team and their paramedic headed to stricken remote villages in their vehicles to deliver their supplies of bottled water and help emergency aid workers in the early stages of the response to the disaster.
‘DARK HORSE’ OF THE YEAR – a car that surprised SGMW members, either by its arrival or just how good it was.
Winner – BYD Dolphin
“A surprisingly complete electric car from a newcomer to the European market. The Dolphin is an excellent value family EV package with a highly-usable driving range and an interestingly-styled interior.”
Runner-up – Abarth 500e
ONE TO WATCH – the car that SGMW members most look forward to driving in the coming year.
Winner – Dacia Spring
“I was very impressed driving the Dacia Jogger so I’m looking forward to seeing what Dacia’s first small EV will be like.”
“This cute city car, likely to be the UK’s cheapest EV, is going to be a tempting runabout and entice more people into electric motoring.”
SGMW CAR OF THE YEAR
Winner – Jeep Avenger, top
“Totally new concept power for this American icon. Although I was hesitant about it when I first drove it, the more I did the more impressive it was for overall driver satisfaction. Really surprising in my view.”