By: ROTIMI ASHER (Motoring World International’s Senior Correspondent, Lagos)
Kia Rio, one of the cars assembled locally by Kia Motors Nigeria, has emerged winner of 2015 Car of the Year (COTY) Award, organized annually by Nigeria Auto Journalists Association (NAJA).
At the keenly contested award night held at the prestigious Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, which was attended by crème de la of the auto industry, including the Director General, National Automotive Design and Development (NADDC), Aminu Jalal, Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Boboye Oyeyemi, represented by Assistant Corps Marshal and Zonal commanding officer RS-2 (made up of Lagos and Ogun States Federal Roads Safety Commission), Nseobong Akpabio, among others, Kia Rio beat Peugeot 301, Nissan Almera and Toyota corolla to cart away the coveted prize.
At the awards ceremony held at the Eko Hotels and Suites, the NAJA’s judges revealed that the Kia Rio won, because of its sophistication, performance, great handling, lighter platform, fuel efficiency, coupled with ride and handling.
Reacting to the award, Sandeep Malhotra, Chief Commercial Officer, Kia Motors Nigeria assured Nigerians that “Kia will continue to build cars that brighten people’s lives and exceed their expectations.
“The Kia Rio has just upped the ante once again,” he noted, adding, “We aim to become a one-and-only brand for our customers, a brand they will choose again and again.”
The NAJA vice president, on behalf of the award screening committee stated that, the selection criteria were rigorous, adding that at some point, the committee members were at a deadlock on arriving at certain decisions.
“A number of factors were applied as parameters to select the car that emerged as the eventual winner,” he explained. “These factors include but not limited to each car’s value proposition in terms of road handling, stability, functionality, comfort, safety features, overall design, availability and accessibility of spare parts and product affordability and popularity.”
For the Car Company of the Year, Peugeot beat Ford and Nissan to emerge winner as Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing went home with the Indigenous Auto Assembler of the Year Award.
Other winners at the award night included Mercedes Benz S-class which bagged the Luxury Sedan of the Year Award, Briscoe won the Most Enterprising Auto Dealership of the Year Award, as Iron Products Industry (IPI) bagged the Auto Builder of the Year Award.
Others included: Auto Assembler of the Year, Stallion; Auto Workshop of the Year, Elizade Toyota; Luxury SUV of the Year, Range Rover; Pick Up of the Year, Toyota Hilux; and Truck Brand of the Year, Mercedes Benz.
Also, Mitsubishi Canter emerged Light Truck of the Year. While Independent Auto Workshop of the Year went to Admiralty Motors. Auto Dealership of the Year, was won by Globe Motors and Sixt emerged as the Car Rental Company of the Year.
Speaking on the awards, Chairman, Nigeria Automotive Journalists Association (NAJA), Frank Kintum said in discharging one of its duties and responsibilities as watchdogs of the society, Automotive Journalists in Nigeria organized the annual event in recognition of products and persons that have stood out during the course of the year.
“In the automotive/automobile sector, it is the responsibility of auto Journalists to watch closely what is happening in terms of launch of new models, entry of new brands as they affected the industry,” he remarked.
However, speaking further, the NAJA chairman charged all stakeholders to always cooperate with NADDC in order to drive the National Automotive Industry Development (NAIDP) as every stakeholder remains key in making the auto policy a success.
Giving more insight on the Car Of The Year (COTY) Award, Mike Ochonma, vice president of NAJA, while speaking on behalf of Theodore Opara, chairman of NAJA Awards’ organising committee, stated that before final selection, dealerships of the Nissan Almera, Toyota Corolla, Kia Rio and Peugeot 301 brands under the COTY category were approached to present their vehicles for test-drive for assessment by the Award committee.
Speaking on behalf of the awardees, the Managing Director, Toyota Nigeria, Kunle Ade-ojo thanked the journalists for organising the award.
While charging the award winners not to rest on their oars as they should continue to provide good and quality automobiles for Nigerians, Ade-ojo urged those who could not win any of the awards to work harder next year in order to be recognized.