Thousands of South Africans have cast their votes for their vehicle of the year. Ordinary drivers and members of the public make up the ‘judge’s panel’ for the 2012 People’s Wheels Award, and they will be waiting with bated breath to see the outcome of their voting.

Keith Watson, Head of Sales for Vehicle and Asset Finance at Standard Bank South Africa, the award sponsor, says that the unique feature of the awards is that it allows motorists to select category winners based on criteria that they believe are most important in their daily driving experience.

“In theory, choosing a People’s Wheels Awards winner could be a matter of examining sales trends, seeing which make and model outsold others, and then placing the crown on its bonnet,” Mr Watson says. “With these awards however, the process of judging is handed over to South African motorists, making the outcome more interesting and more unpredictable.”

He says that drivers tend to build relationships with their cars. Cars are bought for a range of reasons, with affordability usually the top of the list. Over time, drivers can come to love or hate the car they drive. “We can expect that the votes will be influenced by how the voter feels about their vehicle at the time,” says Mr Watson.

“Then, of course, there are the voters who would really like to drive something sexier and flashier – the vehicle they think truly epitomises who they really are. So, instead of voting for the model of vehicle that they drive, they vote with their hearts – casting their vote for the car they aspire to drive. That is what makes the process leading up to an event like this so interesting.

“The judges are people who love cars, who are interested in developments within the automotive world and, in some ways, are just as knowledgeable about their vehicles as motoring experts. The difference lies in the emotion and attachment they have to their rides.”

He says that South Africans, with their passion for cars, will undoubtedly make this event their own. “While it is underpinned by independent research and is one of the most extensive surveys undertaken in the country, the event truly belongs to the people.

“How they perceive motoring excellence, from factors like value for money, to brand names, specific models, specifications and overall appeal, will ultimately be the deciding factor.”

“The People’s Wheels Awards will give valuable insights into what motorists like, what they don’t like, and most importantly what they want,” concludes Mr Watson.

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