BILBAO, Spain – Volkswagen AG, Robert Bosch GmbH and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA were honored here last week as the winners of the first 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. This year's awards recognized top achievement for innovation in product development and environmental technology, supplier technology and retailing.
High volume, high quality
VW Group took home the award for its excellence in product development and environmental technology. Its platform strategy is considered one of the best in industry because it allows the automaker to produce models that lead or strongly compete in key segments, whether that be subcompacts and compacts with the VW Polo and Golf or medium and premium SUVs with the VW Tiguan and Touareg. The automaker's gasoline and diesel engines and its new hybrid drive on the Touareg have made VW Group a leader in models that offer low emissions without sacrificing on performance.
As he accepted the award, VW brand board member for development Ulrich Hackenberg said that the automaker appreciates the recognition because it aims to be the world's most innovative high-volume vehicle producer.
"A prize like this, awarded by the expert jury from Automotive News Europe and the new Automotive Intelligence Center, shows that we are on the right track," Hackenberg added.
Bosch was named the supplier award winner because of its development of electronically controlled active safety systems such as the predictive emergency brake system that launched this year in the new-generation Audi A8 flagship sedan. The system warns drivers in advance in critical situations and helps with braking.
During his acceptance speech, Werner Struth, president of Chassis Systems Control, the Bosch division responsible for the safety systems, said: "This award honors our company's innovation and past achievements – I promise you that this prize will motivate all our associates in their future work."
New idea for mobility
The award for retailing went to PSA for its fast-growing MU by Peugeot mobility program, which allows customers to rent cars, light commercial vehicles, scooters and more via a pre-paid card that can be topped up at any time on the Internet. The program was launched Paris in February 2010 and has expanded quickly. By the end of this year, MU by Peugeot will be offered in Berlin, Madrid, Milan, Brussels, London as well as the Netherlands and Portugal.
When accepting the award, PSA brand director Jean-Marc Gales revealed that Peugeot's and Citroen's electric cars will be added to the Mu by Peugeot offering starting in October. He also promised to reveal other enhancements to the program at the Paris auto show this autumn.