Awards

Blinker named ‘Colorado Company to Watch’

DENVER - 

Blinker, the peer-to-peer car sales app, has been named a Colorado Company to Watch in recognition of its influence as a growing company in Colorado.

The online used-car marketplace, led by John Elway Dealers and Summit Automotive Partners founder Rod Buscher, was launched in Denver in September.

Each year, Colorado Companies to Watch honors second-stage companies that develop valuable products and services, create quality jobs and generate new industries in Colorado, according to Blinker.

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the Edward Lowe Foundation and community partners from across Colorado launched the program in 2009.

“Blinker is honored to receive this distinction, and we are proud to be based in Colorado,” Buscher said in a news release. “After doing business here for more than three decades, we built Blinker to innovate the auto industry by putting people in control of car ownership using a mobile app, in the same way that Airbnb revolutionized its industry.”

Blinker is among 50 companies Colorado Companies to Watch selected to honor this year. Since the program’s inception, its distinction has been presented to 400 companies.

Additionally, earlier this year, Blinker was selected for the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards in recognition of its creativity, form, function and overall experience in the New Economy category.

Last year, Blinker was honored by the Denver Office of Economic Development during the 2016 Denver Startup Week when it named the company a Denver Gazelle, which is a distinction reserved for Denver companies exhibiting both high growth and job creation potential.

For more information about the Colorado Companies to Watch program, visit ColoradoCompaniestoWatch.org.

Kia adds second straight J.D. Power initial quality honor as CPO sales soar

COSTA MESA and IRVINE, Calif. - 

Kia Motors America leadership understood that the automaker surprised the industry last year when it topped the J.D. Power U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS).

As the 2017 study showed new-vehicle quality is at its highest level ever — improving 8 percent from a year ago — Kia celebrated again on Wednesday by taking the title as being ranked highest in overall initial quality for a second consecutive year.

This J.D. Power accolade arrives as Kia said last week it now has gone 16 straight months of certified pre-owned sales records.

Kia moved 7,008 CPO units last month, which beat year-ago figures by 10.2 percent and was its best May ever, according to Autodata Corp. Through five months of the year, there have been 33,414 Kia certified sales, good for a 13.2-percent increase.

And perhaps Kia can leverage this J.D. Power honor into even more CPO turns.

“When Kia beat out the entire industry in last year’s J.D. Power Initial Quality Study many people wondered if we could maintain such a lofty position. Today, the answer is loud and clear as Kia owns the top spot for the second straight year with more 2017 segment award winners than any other nameplate,” said Michael Sprague, Kia’s chief operating officer and executive vice president.

“Our back-to-back chart-topping IQS performances reconfirm Kia’s status as today’s world-class automaker and reflect the exacting standards and craftsmanship our team members instill into every car, crossover and SUV Kia builds.”

Initial quality in this J.D. Power study is measured by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) during the first 90 days of ownership, with a lower score reflecting higher quality. In this year's study, quality improves across seven of the eight categories measured, with 27 of the 33 brands in the study improving their quality compared with 2016.

“Automotive manufacturers are responding to consumer feedback and producing vehicles of the highest quality,” said Dave Sargent, vice president, global automotive at J.D. Power. “The industry has improved significantly in each of the past three years. Today's vehicles have more things that could go wrong but fewer things that actually do go wrong."

J.D. Power noted that Kia led the way with a score of 72 PP100. Kia collected five segment awards — the most of any nameplate — for the Soul (compact multi-purpose vehicle), Forte (compact car), Cadenza (large car), Niro (small SUV) and Sorento (midsize SUV).

J.D. Power officials indicated Genesis (77 PP100) ranked second overall followed by Porsche (78 PP100). Ford and Ram (86 PP100) tie for fourth.

Mini is the most improved brand, with owners reporting 33 PP100 fewer problems than in 2016. Other brands with strong improvement include Ram (28 PP100 improvement), Acura (19), Volvo (18) and Ford (16).

General Motors models that ranked highest in its segments were the Chevrolet Silverado; Chevrolet Silverado HD; Chevrolet Sonic; and GMC Terrain.

BMW models that rank highest in their segments are the BMW 2 Series; BMW 4 Series; BMW X6; and Mini Cooper.

Other models that rank highest in their respective segments are the Chrysler Pacifica; Ford Expedition; Ford Mustang; Infiniti QX80; Lexus GS; Mercedes-Benz GLA; Nissan Frontier; Porsche 911; Porsche Macan; and Toyota Camry.

Three other major findings

J.D. Power mentioned a trio of other key findings from the 2017 study, including:

—Technology improving but still problematic: Audio/communication/entertainment/navigation (ACEN) remains the area where new-vehicle owners experience the most problems. However, this category showed the most improvement since 2016 with a score of 22.8 PP100, or 2.7 PP100 better than last year.

—Early warning bells for autonomous technology: The only category to worsen this year is features, controls and displays. The largest increases in problems are for cruise control (primarily adaptive cruise); lane departure warning; collision avoidance/alert systems; and blind spot warning. These features comprise some of the building blocks of autonomous vehicles, and an increasing number of consumer-reported problems sounds warning bells for automakers and suppliers. Consumers will need to be convinced that these systems are foolproof before they will give up driving control to autonomous vehicles.

—Domestic brands continue to show improvement: The "Detroit Three" outperform import brands for the second year in a row but for only the third time since the study was first published in 1987. In 2017, domestic brands receive a score of 93 PP100 compared with 99 PP100 for import brands. Last year, domestic brands also had fewer problems (103 PP100) compared with import brands (106 PP100).

“The Initial Quality Study continues to demonstrate the critical importance of automakers responding to consumer feedback regarding vehicle quality,” Sargent said.

“Any automaker that stands still will quickly start to fall behind. For consumers, the great news is that significant improvements are occurring in all model segments, meaning that you don't have to spend a lot of money to get a quality vehicle,” he continued.

Plant awards & other study notes

J.D. Power highlighted Toyota Motor Corp.’s Kyushu 2 plant in Japan, which produces the Lexus ES and Lexus RX, received the Platinum Plant Quality Award for producing models with the fewest defects or malfunctions.

Plant quality awards are based solely on defects and malfunctions, and exclude design-related problems.

GM’s Fort Wayne, Ind., plant, which produces the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, receives the Gold Plant Quality Award for the Americas region, while Porsche's Leipzig plant, which produces the Porsche Cayenne and Macan, receives the Gold Plant Quality Award for the Europe/Africa region.

Four other items worth mentioning:

—In 1987, when the IQS was first published, Mercedes-Benz ranked highest as a nameplate while the Toyota Cressida was the highest-ranked model.

—Domestic brands have scored better than imports in only three years (2010, 2016 and 2017).

—Mass market brands have scored better than premium brands in only three years (2006, 2016 and 2017).

—There have been four generations of the study (IQS1: 1987-1997; IQS2: 1998-2005; IQS3: 2006-2012; IQS4: 2013-present). The industry has shown significant improvement in each iteration, with the best IQS scores occurring in the most recent year for each generation.

The U.S. Initial Quality Study is based on responses from nearly 80,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2017 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The study is based on a 233-question battery organized into eight problem categories designed to provide manufacturers with information to facilitate the identification of problems and drive product improvement.

The study was fielded from February through May.

The complete 2017 study can be found here.

automotiveMastermind named Red Herring Top 100 North America winner

LOS ANGELES - 

automotiveMastermind has been named a winner of the Red Herring Top 100 North America award, which recognizes industry-leading companies' innovation and technological advancements.

"It's an honor to be recognized among some of the most exciting and innovative companies in North America," automotiveMastermind chief executive officer and co-founder Marco Schnabl said in a news release. "This award truly showcases the dedication of our team. Since the beginning of this year, we've added four automotive brands to our platform and have grown more than 200 percent. We look forward to continuing to deliver industry-leading predictive analytics to our dealer partners."

Red Herring Top 100 America awards about 1,200 qualified companies throughout the U.S. and Canada.

During a months-long process, Red Herring's editorial team examines a variety of criteria concerning each company, including financial performance, innovation, business strategy and market penetration, according to automotiveMastermind.

"2017's crop of Top 100 winners has been among our most intriguing yet. North America has led the way in tech for so many years, and to see such unique, pioneering entrepreneurs and companies has been a thrilling experience," Red Herring chairman Alex Vieux said.

"What has excited me most is to see so many people forging niches in high-tech and cutting-edge sectors. Some of the technical wizardry and first-rate business models showcased here at the conference has been fantastic to learn about. We believe automotiveMastermind embodies the drive, skill and passion on which tech thrives. They should be proud of this achievement — the competition was incredibly strong."

Previous Red Herring Top 100 winners include Alibaba, Facebook, Google, Skype, SuperCell, Spotify, Twitter and YouTube.

For a complete list of this year’s winners, visit http://www.redherring.com/2017-rhna-winners.

NIADA welcomes Hudson into Ring of Honor

ARLINGTON, Texas  - 

Respected automotive attorney Tom Hudson of Hudson Cook has been selected as the newest member of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association’s prestigious Ring of Honor.

Hudson became the 29th auto industry leader to be inducted into the Ring of Honor, NIADA's highest award for non-dealers. The award was announced during the National Leadership Awards Banquet at The Mirage in Las Vegas, part of the 71st annual NIADA Convention and Expo.

NIADA’s Ring of Honor recognizes allied industry leaders who have contributed to the professionalism and growth of the automobile industry through outstanding performance and leadership.

“I’m honored to be named to the Ring of Honor and to be recognized by an organization like NIADA that does so much to support dealers across the country,” Hudson said.

Hudson’s career spans more than four decades, from a start-up law practice in 1973 to becoming a founding partner of a firm, a CEO and editor of a service that reports on legal issues in the auto finance and lease industry, among other roles.

As an attorney, Hudson received the Senator William Proxmire Lifetime Achievement Award from the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers in 2009 and served as chairman of the American Bar Association Financial Services Committee's specialty area on personal property finance.

As an author, he's written the CARLAW series and other books as well as numerous articles as the acclaimed CARLAWYER and as editor in chief of Counselor Library. He is also a frequent speaker at auto industry events, including the NIADA Convention and Expo as well as Used Car Week.

“Tom is a true industry icon,” NIADA chief executive officer Steve Jordan said. “He has been recognized as an expert in his field over and over again, with accolades again, just too numerous to mention.

“We are proud of being his longstanding relationship with NIADA and its member dealers, so many whom have been educated and assisted over the years by his contributions and expertise in so many areas — legal, regulatory, compliance, buy-here, pay-here and more,” Jordan continued.

Carfax receives 4th straight Washington Post workplace honor

CENTREVILLE, Va. - 

Carfax is celebrating its fourth straight time as a Top Workplace in the Washington D.C. area. The Washington Post revealed that Carfax ranks fifth among midsize regional employers.

Officials indicated Carfax employees consistently cite the open, innovative workspace, company mission and team-first culture as keys that make Carfax the choice for careers in consumer information technology.

Carfax is a rapidly expanding company that has created nearly 200 new jobs since first earning this honor from The Washington Post in 2014. Best known for its vehicle history report, Carfax now concentrates on innovative solutions used by millions of people every day to shop for, buy, own and sell used vehicles. Carfax recently added 25,000 square feet to its Fairfax County campus, making space for dozens more programmers and data engineers the company is hiring to help with game-changing tools like Carfax Used Car Listings, Carfax History-Based Value and the highly acclaimed myCarfax.com mobile app.

“We couldn't be prouder to have our passion for helping millions of people result in national recognition as a Top Workplace,” Carfax president Dick Raines said. "Being a leader in the tech space requires building and keeping a talented team through unwavering dedication to employee satisfaction.

“From our investment in cutting-edge tools on through to our office creature comforts, Team Carfax enjoys the best that some of the leading Silicon Valley companies have to offer, yet in our own unique work environment. People come to Carfax for our culture and they stay for a career,” Raines continued.

Carfax employees thrive in a state-of-the-art, dog-friendly campus managed by Cushman & Wakefield where collaboration is encouraged, personal space is respected, and fun is everywhere. Video and table games, sports equipment, an indoor park and relaxation areas help Team Carfax recharge throughout the day.

Other key Carfax benefits include health and wellness programs, personal development time and quarterly hackathon challenges. Carfax employees also participate in team fundraising efforts throughout the year.

“We have a great team that believes helping millions of people doesn't stop with our customers,” said Adrienne Webster, vice president of human resources at Carfax. "Through many community initiatives, like helping families in need at various D.C. area shelters or raising thousands of dollars for autism research during the annual Bike to the Beach ride, we all pull together for the benefit of others.

“Having a clear sense of purpose and great work-life balance fuels the happiness of every Team Carfax member,” Webster went on to say.

Carfax also has earned national recognition from Glassdoor.com as a top workplace. Carfax president Dick Raines, who recently celebrated 25 years with the company, was voted one of the nation's most-liked business leaders at Glassdoor.com.

AutoPacific awards 23 vehicles for high satisfaction

TUSTIN, Calif. - 

AutoPacific announced its 21st annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, which recognize the most satisfying vehicles in the market.

Winners are selected by measuring how satisfied car owners are with their new vehicle. Over 54,000 owners of both new 2016 and 2017 makes and models were surveyed.

"This is the 21st anniversary of AutoPacific identifying the most satisfying vehicles and providing consumers a way to streamline their search for their perfect vehicle," AutoPacific president George Peterson said in a news release. "VSAs look at the big picture, which includes owners' experiences with their vehicle's quality and safety, but also goes deeper into the heart of the ownership experience."

The awards measure owner satisfaction according to 49 different attributes that range from interior comfort and styling to fuel economy and performance, according to AutoPacific.

With five VSAs, Nissan won the most awards this year, followed by Kia with three. Brands taking home two VSAs include Porsche, Honda and Ford. Genesis, Volvo, Mini, Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, GMC, Lexus, and Lincoln each won one VSA. 

Seven of the 23 winning vehicles were redesigned for the 2017 model year. The top redesigned vehicles include the Genesis G90, Kia Cadenza, Nissan Titan, Ford F-Series Super Duty, Honda Ridgeline, Kia Sportage and Chrysler Pacifica.

GMC won the top ranked popular brand award, "retaking the lead from 2016's top popular brand, Kia," AutoPacific said.

The premium brand with the highest ranked satisfaction is Lincoln.

AutoPacific recognized the 2017 Genesis G90 with its President's Award this year. This award is given only when the overall score tops the previous high score, according to the automotive marketing research firm. Previous President's Award recipients include the 2016 Cadillac Escalade, 2015 Kia K900, 2014 Mercedes S-Class and the 2010 Hyundai Sonata. 

AutoPacific’s 2017 Vehicle Satisfaction Award Winners

Passenger Cars

Luxury Car: Genesis G90

Aspirational Luxury Car: Volvo S60/V60

Luxury Mid-Size Car: Nissan Maxima

Large Car: Kia Cadenza

Mid-Size Car: Kia Optima

Premium Compact Car: MINI Clubman

Compact Car: Honda Civic

Economy Car: Nissan Versa

Sports Car: Porsche 911

Sporty Car: Dodge Challenger

Light trucks

Light Duty Pickup: Nissan Titan

Heavy Duty Pickup: Ford F-Series Super Duty

Compact Pickup: Honda Ridgeline

Luxury SUV: Lincoln Navigator

Large SUV: GMC Yukon XL

Mid-Size SUV: Jeep Grand Cherokee

Premium Luxury Crossover SUV: Porsche Cayenne

Luxury Crossover SUV: Lexus RX

Large Crossover SUV: Ford Flex

Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV: Nissan Murano

Mid-Size Crossover SUV: Nissan Rogue

Compact Crossover SUV: Kia Sportage

Minivan: Chrysler Pacifica

Donlen named one of Chicago’s best & brightest companies to work

BANNOCKBURN, Ill. - 

For the third year in a row, Donlen has been recognized by the National Association for Business Resources (NABR) as one of Chicago's Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, the company recently announced.

Dolen and other winners will be honored at a symposium and awards celebration on July 17 at the Chicago Marriott Southwest at Burr Ridge.

"Employee satisfaction and development drives our award-winning culture here at Donlen," the company’s human resources business partner Kelly Elliott said in a news release. "We promote an empowering environment that gives our employees the resources and opportunities they need to find success, grow, and contribute to the exceptional fleet experience that Donlen provides our customers.

“We are honored to be recognized by the Chicago’s Best and Brightest organization and we thank our employees for their dedication and efforts to make Donlen a desirable and productive workplace.”

NABR selected this year's winning companies using an independent research firm that evaluates each company's entry in the following categories, according to Donlen:

—Compensation, benefits and employee solutions
—Employee enrichment, engagement and retention
—Employee education and development
—Recruitment, selection and orientation
—Employee achievement and recognition
—Communication and shared vision
—Diversity and inclusion
—Work-life balance
—Community initiatives
—Strategic company performance
—Best of the Best Small Business, Medium Business and Large Business.

“Profitability and stability is essential for businesses in today’s economic climate. Companies that recognize that their employees are the key to their success achieve staying power,” said Jennifer Kluge, president and chief executive officer of MBPA, an affiliate of NABR. “Our 2017 winners create their human resource standards to ensure employee satisfaction and they set standards for every business to aspire toward. We are proud to honor this year’s winners.”

For more information about the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For organization, visit www.101bestandbrightest.com.

White Clarke Group’s Gleeson wins Auto Finance Personality of the Year

LONDON - 

White Clarke Group chief executive officer Brendan Gleeson received the Auto Finance Personality of the Year award during the International Auto Finance Network (IAFN) event conducted last week in London.

The IAFN Awards dinner celebrated excellence and innovation within the automotive leasing and lending industries.

Organizers indicated the Auto Finance Personality of the Year is an award designed to recognize the individual who has made the most noteworthy contribution to the motor finance, fleet finance or retail auto finance industry in the last two years.

The judges of the award said: “Brendan is a visionary for the motor finance industry. He has a clear understanding of what consumers, dealers and finance companies want and need when using finance to buy their vehicles, and has set out to create a company that provides products that support this vision. His leadership has proven to be a key factor in the overall growth of White Clarke Group.”

In addition to Gleeson’s award, White Clarke Group were also awarded the Best Use of Technology award and highly commended Best Point of Sale – Motor Finance award.

The awards were judged by leaders from the auto finance, fleet finance and ancillary industries and chaired by Adrian Dally, head of motor finance at the Finance & Leasing Association.

This sell-out conference, which included an awards ceremony in the evening, is one of the premier international forums for leaders in the auto finance industry to consider the challenges and opportunities faced by the industry.

AutoMobility LA opens submissions for top 10 startup competition

LOS ANGELES - 

AutoMobility LA has announced that it is now accepting submissions for its 2017 Top Ten Automotive Startups Competition, which recognizes startup companies that have impressive innovations with the potential to shape the future of the new transportation industry.

The competition’s finalists will be named just before the 2017 AutoMobility LA show, which will take place this fall at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

At the convention, the competition’s winning startup will receive an on-stage advisor session with influencers in the technology and automotive industries. The session’s participating advisors will include Bill Tai, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Norman Firchau, the president and chief executive officer of Porsche Consulting North America and Jeff Henshaw, Microsoft’s quantum computing program manager, according to AutoMobility LA.

“Our Top Ten competition is a true sentiment of what AutoMobility LA is all about – a celebration of the new mobility industry,” AutoMobility LA and LA Auto Show president and chief executive officer Lisa Kaz said in a news release. “As the new mobility industry continues to evolve, our goal is to recognize companies who are truly disrupting the traditional automotive space and building the next great product or service that will change our lives.”

This year, companies will be evaluated by a team of juries made up of the LA Auto Show executive team and senior executives from companies such as Elektrobit, NVIDIA, TIME's The Drive, Porsche Consulting and Microsoft.

Additionally, at the upcoming AutoMobility LA show, the competition's finalists will receive access to a complimentary booth space at the convention as well as an invitation to a VIP reception with the AutoMobility LA executive team, advisory board members, top investors and industry executives.

“The startups will also be recognized in front of 25,000 media professionals, influential thought-leaders, automakers, tech titans, designers, developers, investors, dealers, government officials, analysts, fellow startups and more,” AutoMobility LA said.

Submissions for the Top Ten Automotive Startups Competition will be accepted through July 15. For more information and to apply, visit https://automobilityla.com.

Previous competition winners include Argus Cyber Security, Elio Motors, EverCharge, Inc., High Mobility, HopSkipDrive and PolySync.

Donlen names auction program award winners

BANNOCKBURN, Ill. - 

Donlen has named the recipients of the company’s annual Top Auction Awards, which honor top performing auto auction partners that work closely with Donlen’s remarketing program.

“Donlen is fortunate to have so many strong auction partners. The decision to honor a select group was difficult, in that all are such integral contributors to our success,” Donlen director of vehicle remarketing Dan Powers said in a news release. “We applaud and congratulate our award winners and look forward to another year of providing best-in-class remarketing support to fleets.”

According to Donlen, the selection process for choosing award finalists includes measuring each auction house’s ability to ensure the highest level of service delivery.

“Donlen takes great pride in ensuring that its remarketing program is unsurpassed,” the company said.

The financing and fleet management solutions provider said it uses both internal and external audits to manage its remarketing program.

This year’s Donlen Top Auction Awards winners include the following:

•       Auction of the Year – Manheim Mississippi

•       Central/Northeast Region – ABC Detroit Toledo

•       South/Southeast Region – Carolina Auto Auction

•       West Region – Adesa Portland

•       Best Days to Condition Report – Orlando Longwood Auto Auction

•       Best Retention Dollars – Adesa Golden Gate

•       Best Days To Sell – Adesa Atlanta

•       Best Expense Control – Manheim Ft. Lauderdale