The 2015 Vehicle Dynamics International Awards winners have been announced, following a close-fought competition in nearly all categories. BMW’s i8 notched up another international trophy, taking top honors in the Car of the Year category. BMW’s chassis department added the Dynamics Team of the Year accolade to the company’s haul of victories, following a busy year of introducing very diverse new models. Tier One supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG took Supplier of the Year, thanks to a number of new innovations working their way on to new models over the past twelve months. Specifically, its Active Kinematics Control System, as supplied to Porsche for the 911 Turbo and GT3 models was particularly impressive – taking top spot in the Innovation of the Year category.
This year, it was the work of Mazda’s Nobuhiro Yamamoto that impressed the jury enough to take the Dynamicist of the Year title. Yamamoto-San has worked on several Mazda programs, including the iconic 1991 Le Mans-winning 787B. Rounding off the awards was the Development Tool of the Year category, won by rFpro for it’s advanced road-modeling service.
The 2015 Award winners in full:
Car of the Year: BMW i8
Dynamics Team of the Year: BMW
Dynamicist of the Year: Nobuhiro Yamamoto, Mazda
Innovation of the Year: ZF Active Kinematics Control System
Supplier of the Year: ZF Friedrichshafen AG
Development Tool of the Year: rFpro road modeling service
John O’Brien, Editor of Vehicle Dynamics International said: “This year has equaled 2014 for unpredictability. The lead in nearly all categories continually shifted as the votes rolled in. Having the privilege of working with a truly global judging panel also gives an interesting insight to what matters, in terms of vehicle dynamics, in different regions. But a huge, and deserved, congratulations to all the winners; BMW, ZF Friedrichshafen, rFpro, and Yamamoto-San of Mazda for his fine work on the MX-5.”
The international judging panel was equally forthcoming in its praise of this year’s winners. The Car of the Year category featured some of the best cars from the twelve past months, with each nomination worthy of the overall accolade. Eventually, it was the i8 that built up a lead and maintained it, winning praise from most judges. As jury member Jim Kenzie enthused, “The i8 has been hailed by some as the future of the supercar. While the car’s hybrid drivetrain is clever, some of its chassis technologies are just as impressive.” The praise for the German OEM extended to the company’s chassis department, which picked up top spot in the ‘Dynamics Team of the Year’ category. Juror Carl Cunanan stated, “Trying to change the way a historic, and historically adamant, brand moves in direction is challenging at any time. But the fact that BMW has produced end results, which have been very well received, is amazing.”
Mazda’s Yamamoto-San was a man that jurors were eager to praise – including those that even voted in favor of others on the shortlist. His work on maintaining the MX-5’s sterling reputation won him admiration from the judges, as Marc Noordeloos surmised; “Nobuhiro Yamamoto and his team have taken the tried and true Mazda roadster formula, and have managed to introduce impressive weight savings, returning the MX-5 to something similar to what made the original, first-generation so revolutionary.”
Tier One supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG’s continued work and development alongside a diverse range of OEMs also impressed the judges. The refined and well resolved Active Kinematics Control System (above) that Porsche implements on its performance 911 models impressed Motor Trend’s Markus Franklin. “Active rear steering always makes a much bigger difference in maneuverability and dynamic handling stability than the small steering angles (here up to 3 degrees) would suggest,” he enthused. ZF’s wide range of products, however, ensured that the German company also picked up the award for ‘Supplier of the Year’. Judge Tarcisio Dias de Araujo enthused, “ZF has shown it is able to evolve in to one of the best and most current companies on the world market. Its technologies go beyond simply providing better handling and driving, to ensure other qualities such as reductions in noise, or improvements to fuel economy too.”
rFpro’s road modeling service was a popular choice for jury members. In something of an unprecedented result, the highly detailed modeling software took top marks from almost all judges. As juror Gabor Szecsenyi explains, “accurate road surface modeling has the potential to help manufacturers to adapt their worldwide models to local conditions globally – only more accurately and more cost-effectively than ever before…”
For the full story on this year’s awards, see the feature in the forthcoming issue of Vehicle Dynamics International magazine.
About the awards:
How the judging process for the Vehicle Dynamics International Awards works: nominations are received from VDI’s expert readership of chassis and dynamics professionals, and from the editorial team. From that list of entries, between four and six finalists are shortlisted for each category, and this shortlist is evaluated by our international, independent judging panel of automotive journalists, to decide the winners.
The full list of judges this year was:
Robert Bielecki, freelance, Poland; John Simister, freelance, UK; Marco Marelli, freelance, Italy; Richard Russell, freelance, Canada; Kun Wang, Automotive Weekly, China; Michael Taylor, AutoCar worldwide; Yogendra Pratap, Autobild India; Choi Joo-sik, Autocar, Korea; Leonid Golovanov, Autoreview, Russia; Hormazd Sorabjee, Autocar, India; Gabor Szecsenyi, Az Auto and Retro Mobil, Hungary; Jürgen Zöllter, freelance, Germany; Tomaz Porekar, Avto Magazin, Slovenia; Lorenzo Facchinetti, Auto, Italy; Markus Franklin, Motor Trend, USA; Jim Kenzie, Toronto Star, Canada; Carl Cunanan, C! Magazine, Philippines; Yves Maroselli, Le Figaro, France; Sergio Oliveira de Melo, El Informador, Mexico; Oleg Vasilevsky, Auto Bild Ukraine; Alvaro Sauras Alonso, Autofacil and CAR&Tecno, Spain; Tarcisio Dias de Araujo, Mecânica Online, Brazil; Marc Noordeloos, freelance, USA; John O’Brien, Vehicle Dynamics International, UK; Alex Kersten, Carthrottle, UK; Phil Morse, dynamicist and automotive writer, UK.