8 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 13, 2020

You‘ve seen the ITOY brand appear in the pages of New Zealand Trucking over the past year and a bit, but what exactly is the International Truck of the Year and what does it mean for you, as a reader?

The International Truck of the Year award has grown to encompass the top commercial vehicle publications from 32 countries, at least one from (almost) each continent on the planet. Winning the award has come to be seen as a huge achievement in the world of commercial vehicles, as the criteria for these awards are exacting and extensive, with hands-on vehicle assessment and consultation with operators a necessity. Since its inception in 1976 by British commercial vehicle journalist Pat Kennett, the first editor of TRUCK magazine, it has grown to reach more than 1 million people across its jury and associate members‘ publications today. The story goes that Pat was testing the then new Seddon Atkinson SA200, which he found to be highly innovative and ahead of its competitors when it came to comfort and safety. (Indeed, the SA200 was the first recipient of the award in 1977.) The idea was born to create an award that recognised the latest technical developments in new commercial vehicle design and truck technology, especially with regard to what benefits they offer to operators and drivers. Today, those same tenets remain. Several important criteria are taken into account when judging a winner, including technical innovation, comfort, safety, drivability, fuel economy, environmental footprint, and total cost of ownership.

Photo: The new Mercedes-Benz Actros perfectly filled the brief required of an ITOY recipient. Mercedes-Benz built on what was already a technically strong truck (the 2012 ITOY winner) and delivered substantial improvements. Among its outstanding features were MirrorCam, Active Brake Assist 5, Predictive Powertrain Control and the Digital multimedia cockpit.

By mid-1977 the heart of the very first ‘international jury group‘ was created. Each juror was a highly professional truck journalist, with wide experience in testing and evaluating heavy trucks within their own countries. This requirement hasn‘t changed, with membership limited to one experienced representative of one premier publication from each country represented. The jury meets several times a year to discuss the current nominees, as well as gathering for various functions including new product launches. It also meets with legislators and industry representative bodies to promote road transport. As well as a forum for cooperation on international truck testing, the ITOY network became truly ‘international‘ in the exchange of information on road transport with the instituting of ITOY associate members a few years ago. This means we as New Zealand Trucking Media are privy to articles and events exclusive to ITOY members. Regular readers would have seen some exclusive ITOY stories appearing in New Zealand Trucking from time to time. Excitingly, as the associate publication in New Zealand, we too share relevant stories and news from Aotearoa with our ITOY counterparts. This global cooperation is one of the factors that lifts ITOY members and their publications in the eyes of global truck OEMs.

How does the award work?
As the award has gained more publicity and prestige, the competition amongst manufacturers to win it has naturally increased. However, each jury member is required to remain strictly neutral. The awards voting needs to be based on professional knowledge, personal test experience, and the sound on-road evaluation of each candidate truck. The process for each year‘s voting starts early in the European summer, when the jury meets to select a shortlist of potential candidates. Each jury member can nominate the trucks they consider worthy, before the jury deliberates on which trucks should be on the list of finalists. In the European autumn/winter, all the jury members individually and secretly cast their votes on their preferred choice. An independent adjudicator working for Dekra collects all the votes, so that no member knows how the votes have been cast until the winning manufacturer is presented with the award. There are, of course, certain criteria to be met when it comes to voting. Most importantly, each jury member must have tested the eligible trucks, if possible and if applicable, on their own test route. They also must have had close contact, if possible, with operators using the eligible trucks. For a truck to be eligible, it needs to have a gross vehicle weight of more than 3.5 tonnes and be introduced to the market in the previous 12 months. Given the pace of heavy truck development and model replacement is generally slower than that of other vehicles, eligible trucks must contain considerable technological improvements.

Future-proofed awards
In 2019 the ITOY jury awarded the first ever Truck Innovation Award. This award was created to acknowledge the enormous technological changes and the energy transition seen among heavy commercial vehicle OEMs in the past few years. According to ITOY rules, a Truck Innovation Award nominee must be an advanced-technology vehicle with a gross vehicle weight over 3.5-tonnes, either fitted with an alternative driveline or an alternative fuel system. Otherwise, it must feature specific high-tech solutions with regard to connectivity (whether semi- or fullyautonomous driving systems), a ‘platooning‘ capability, or advanced support services such as remote diagnostics. Four years ago ITOY introduced the Chinese Truck of the Year award. This was followed last year by the Truck of the Year Latin America award. Both of these awards recognise new trucks launched into two of the world‘s most prominent emerging markets.

And one for LCVs
The International Van of the Year (IVOTY) awards started in 1992 as a spin-off of the ITOY awards for light commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes GVW. In 2009 the International Pick-Up Award (IPUA) was formed as an affiliate prize to the IVOTY.