Volvo, Conti, Audi are 2014 L.E.A.D.E.R. winners

BRUSSELS -- Volvo, Continental and Audi are the 2014 winners of the fifth annual Automotive News Europe/Automotive Intelligence Center L.E.A.D.E.R. awards.

L.E.A.D.E.R. stands for Leaders in European Automotive Development, Excellence, and Research. The awards recognize top achievement for innovation in product development and environmental technology, supplier technology and retailing.

Success in safety

Volvo was chosen for its long-term leadership in car safety systems. The achievements that caught the jury’s attention were Volvo’s pedestrian detection system, which enhances the detection of other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists when driving at dusk or at night, and the automaker's adaptive cruise control with steer assist, which helps the driver stay in the proper lane and match the rhythm of the traffic by automatically following the vehicle ahead.

"This is a great honor because Volvo has stood for safety innovation since inventing the three-point seat belt, which has saved more than 1 million lives,” Volvo head of r&d Peter Mertens said during an awards presentation at the Automotive News Europe Congress on Wednesday. “Innovation is a core focus for us. We are too small to be slow. We need to be smart and nimble so I am happy to accept this award for the entire team at Volvo.”

Connected car

Continental was honored in the supplier category for its development of advanced sensors, automotive apps and its effort to help develop the connected vehicle.

Continental has assisted automakers by developing product prototypes such as its Connected Electronic Horizon and Smart Speech technologies.

“We feel honored that what we are doing as company for the automakers is being noticed and recognized,” said Karlheinz Haupt, Continental’s executive vice president for advanced driver assistance systems

Retail revolution

Audi was awarded for its novel approach to attract a younger and more technologically savvy crowd into showrooms. It has done this by opening Audi City “digital” showrooms in London, Berlin and Beijing. These dealerships have no cars on display, instead customers can view and configure any model in Audi's model range via a virtually interactive environment.

Sven Schuwirth, Audi’s head of brand and retail development, said the automaker is very proud and honored that its growing network of virtual showrooms has been so well-received by customers and by the L.E.A.D.E.R. award judges.

You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at dbolduc@autonews.com.

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