The automotive/truck community has its awards season just like they do for Hollywood movies or recognition-worthy music. It’s exciting, exhausting and loaded with joy and disappointment. The difference is that nobody gets to walk the red carpet.
Last month, I had the opportunity to be a judge for the Active Lifestyle Vehicle awards, which were held at the Chandler, AZ, facilities of Local Motors(which isn’t really local at all). This is the micro-factory where you can build everything from a Rally Fighter off-road vehicle to a drift- cycle that mimics drift racing in something as small as a parking lot. Local has been featured in numerous TV shows — maybe you saw them working alongside Jesse James on a project– but more about Local Motors in the future. For now. it’s worthwhile to know that their people are totally ingenious and the facilities, which include a small off-road track with a butt-shattering rock crawl, make you want to build something.
For the ALV awards, about 30 vehicles were entered in eight categories, but the most interesting thing is that the people driving and judging — with the exception of a few journalists — look just like you and have the same kind of concerns about their vehicles. The thing that ties them all together is the fact that they lead active lifestyles. This was the 11th year for the competition.
ALV founder, Nina Russin, and her team bring together athletes from the area, including members of the Arizona Legends, retired NFL players who now live in Arizona, representatives from Sole Sports Running Zone, Fit Mom Diet and Fit Fathers, elite runners, triathaletes, paddlers, cyclists, swimmers and more. For them, it’s all about getting themselves, their families and their gear from point A to point B. They’re generally not about towing, but even that comes into play.
The Arizona Legends are an amazing group of men that include Mark Walczak and John Bronson (my drive partner) of the Arizona Cardinals; Steve Holden of the Cleveland Browns, Tony Bouie of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chris Dugan of the Seattle Seahawks, and Bernard Wilson of the Detroit Lions. The group, which received a donation from ALV, is a 501C organizat6ion that supports area school football leagues, helps retired NFL players with medical expenses and educates the public about the importance of playing the game safely.
How the competition works
Vehicles are driven on road and, when appropriate, off road. Manufacturers designate which categories their vehicles are entered in, and bring their product specialists to point out all of the features. No pickups this year in this competition, but there certainly could be. The judges listen, but in the end it’s all about the drive experience.
The winners were:
Best Urban Vehicle — Kia Soul
Best Value On-Road — Dodge Journey Crossroad
Best Value Off-Road — Subaru Outback (which was recently named Crossover Vehicle of Texas)
Luxury On-Road — Mercedes-Benz C400
Luxury Off-Road — Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel
Best Value Family — Dodge Durango
Best Luxury Family — Cadillac Escalade
Best Green ALV — Volkswagen Golf TDI
Design excellence also recognized
Not only are the employees of Local Motors both inventive and talented, so are the designers from all disciplines who co-create vehicles using open sourcing. This was the second year that they were invited to submit vehicle concepts in a competition. XPEL Technologies, which produces a range of protective self-healing film products sponsored the program which was intended to find new ways to use XPEL materials and athletic gear in new ways on a creatively-concepted ALV.
The results were impressive. Nyko dePeyer, Local Motors design community director, said,” Partnering with XPEL made this a true challenge…and are really looking forward to the next ALV Designer Challenge.