For the first time in the 16-year history of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada's (AJAC) Best New Technology awards, the association presented awards in two different categories – Innovation and Safety. And Infiniti won them both.
Best New Innovation Technology:
Infiniti's 'Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS)' technology, introduced on the new Infiniti Q50, won the AJAC "Best New Innovation Technology" award.
The DAS system is the first production application of "steer by wire" technology, which replaces the mechanical connection between the steering wheel and front wheels with electric controls (except for a redundant emergency backup).
DAS allows drivers to adjust such characteristics as steering effort and response and enables such other advanced safety features as Lane Departure Prevention and Active lane Control.
Infiniti's 'Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW) ' technology, also offered on the Q50 sedan, took the "Best New Safety Technology" award for 2014.
Best New Safety Technology:
Predictive Forward Collision Warning is a world's-first technology that makes use of existing hardware on the vehicle to provide safety information that isn't directly available to the human senses.
Specifically, it uses the forward looking radar inherent in the car's Intelligent Cruise Control and Distance Control Assist systems to "see" beneath the vehicle ahead and monitor the vehicle ahead of it – a particularly helpful feature when following a minivan, truck or bus that restricts vision around or in front of it.
PFCW can determine if the vehicle two ahead is decelerating rapidly and warn the driver via visual and audible alerts and haptically, by tightening the seatbelt.
> Ford – 1.0-litre EcoBoost Engine
> General Motors – Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve (DSSV) Damper Technology
> Honda – Electric Servo Brake System
> Honda – Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD)
> Toyota – Valvematic valve control
In the Innovation category they were:
> Mercedes-Benz – Pre-Safe Brake with Pedestrian Recognition
> Mercedes-Benz – BAS Plus with Cross-Traffic Assist
> Mercedes-Benz – Pre-Safe Plus
> Mercedes-Benz – Pre-Safe Impulse
AJAC expanded its technology awards program to include two categories this year because, in the past, jurors the often found it difficult to choose between a worthy and innovative technology that might improve comfort, or performance, or fuel economy, and another that might save lives.
The solution was to judge entries of both types independently of the other, thus ensuring that the best of both genres have a chance to be recognized for their respective merits.
As a first step in the selection process, a jury of 12 AJAC member journalists with specific technical qualifications independently reviewed overview briefs on all the technology entries submitted by Canada's automakers.
From that initial review, by secret ballot, they established a short-list of five finalists in each category (six in innovation, because there was a tie.).
Then, in early December, they convened in Toronto for a day of presentations by manufacturers' representatives on each of their short-listed entries and a chance to grille them with questions, after which they voted by secret ballot.
As with the AJAC Canadian Car of the Year program, those votes were compiled by the accounting firm, KPMG.
The winners were announced today at the Montreal International Auto Show.
The other short-listed finalists in the Innovation category were: