In an interesting development, Volkswagen Group in Australia has refused to take part in the upcoming Australian Automobile Association (AAA) Best Cars competition.
The refusal, which prohibits Skoda or Volkswagen entering cars for the awards, is seen as a reprisal for last year’s shock banning by the AAA of VW Group vehicles, ostensibly because of the emissions scandal, even though none of the vehicles eligible for judging in 2015 were affected by the scandal.
VW Group MD Michael Bartsch said he believes the AAA awards “lack validity”, and that the AAA’s public statements “inspire little confidence in its grasp of fundamental issues”.
“Moreover,” he added, “the AAA has become hostile not only to our brands, but to the motor vehicle industry that employs tens of thousands of Australians.
“Volkswagen Group Australia continues to willingly submit its vehicles to judging in awards run by this country’s major media outlets. We enter these with no expectation of winning, but with every confidence in the ability of those organisations to arrive at the best outcomes for the car buying public.”
The decision is interesting in the New Zealand context, where some members of the New Zealand Motoring Writers Guild believe their long-standing “New Zealand Car of the Year” award has been hijacked by the New Zealand Automobile Association after the two organisations formed an alliance to judge and present the awards a number of years ago.
Part of the deal was that Guild members judge not only their own competition, which is based only on vehicles released during a 12-month period prior to the awards, but also the AA’s category awards, which are based on every vehicle on the market, no matter how old.
Some members feel this dilutes the credibility of the Guild award, and the involvement of its members in the judging process; indeed, advertising subsequent to the awards seems to back this up, with only the AA receiving recognition, and the Guild none.