An over 30 years institution

The International Truck of the Year (IToY) Jury is an international organisation representing 25 countries throughout Europe. The selected truck journalists who are members of the jury each represent leading the trucking magazines in their home country in Europe, from Spain, Italy and Greece in the south to the Scandinavian countries in the north, and from Belgium, Britain, France and Ireland in the west to Russia, Rumania and Slovakia in the east.

The main task of the Jury is, according to its own rules, to each year present the annual 'International Truck of the Year' award to the truck launched in that year which "makes the greatest contribution to the development of transport of goods by road in those countries involved in the election". In reaching its decision the jury considers the technical, economical and practical qualities of the candidate vehicles. More recently, safety and environmental aspects of those vehicles have played an increasingly important role in the judging procedure.

IToY is a non-profit, democratic organisation where the members jointly make the major decisions. The jury meets several times a year to discuss the current nominees as well as gathering for various func-tions including new product launches. It has become a truly 'international' network for the exchange of information on road transport as well as a forum for co-operation on international truck testing. It also meets regularly with legislators and industry representative bodies to help promote road transport. In this respect, it is unique body with great value to the members.

It started in 1976

IToY all started in Great Britain in 1976 when Truck Magazine´s first editor, the late Pat Kennett was testing the then new Seddon Atkinson SA200 in northern Britain. He found it to be highly innovative and ahead of its competitors when it came to comfort and safety. And thus the idea was born to create an award which recognised the latest technical developments in new commercial vehicle design and truck technology, especially with regard to what benefits they offer to operators and driver. Pat's idea was enthusiastically supported by Truck's publisher Andrew Frankl, and together they decided to create the "Truck of the Year" award.

In 1977 the very first award was handed over to Seddon Atkinson to honour the best new truck on the market from the owners' point of view. It was a small step towards IToY, being at first a purely British affair, but that changed the following year when Kennett and Frankl started looking for qualified colleagues in other European countries who shared their vision. By mid-1977 the heart of the very first 'international jury group' was created. Members at that time where Axel Mortensen in Denmark, Joe Tierlynck from Belgium, Johannes Graf von Saurma from Germany, Dick Bergeren from Holland, Tiit Tamme in Sweden and, of course, the creator and first chairman of the IToY Jury, Pat Kennett, representing Great Britain. All of them were highly-professional truck journalists with a very wide experience in testing and evaluating heavy trucks within their own countries.

The Jury continued to grow rapidly and for many years covered 13 countries in Western Europe. The trophy de -sign used today was originally created on the initiative of Johannes Graf von Saurma, the jury member in Germany. Meanwhile, with the opening up of Eastern Europe in the 1990s it became an ambition to involve these newly-emerging markets with their new magazines in order to create an IToY jury that represented the whole of Europe. The first east European member was elected in 1998 and represented Slovakia. In 1980 the next years they were joined by jurors from Russia, Poland and Hungary. Today the IToY jury consists of no less than 25 members.

Professional integrity

The original, fairly simple IToY rules have been revised throughout that time too, reflecting the chang-ing nature of the business. And as the award has gained more publicity and prestige the competi-tion amongst manufacturers to win it has become even more intense. However, throughout the many years of IToY, it's been vital that each jury member remains strictly neutral and that the annual awards voting is based on professional knowledge, personal test experience and the sound evaluation of each candidate truck 'out on the road'. For many years now an independent adjudicator working for the International Road Transport Union (IRU) has collected all the votes, so that no jury member knows how the votes have been cast, until the winner has been officially declared by the Chairman. With such power there is also great responsibility and each IToY jury member is justly proud of his or her independence and standing within the industry. And looking back over the years at the list of previous IToY winners, many have (not surprisingly) gone on to become highly-successful, top-selling models for their manufacturer, fully endorsing the judges' decision as to their pedigree.

The IToY election process begins in early summer when the Jury meets together to select a short-list of potential candidates. Each and every jury member can nominate a truck (or trucks) he or she considers worthy of consideration as a potential candidate in the selection. From that initial discussion the jury then agrees which trucks should be on the final short-list, and thus voted upon. Then, in the early Autumn, all the jury members individually and secretly cast their votes on their preferred choice, sending their vote to the IRU adjudicator who collates all the votes, creating the final score which is then presented back to the IToY Chairman who formally announces the winner. The IToY winning manufacturer is presented with their award on the press day of an international truck show in Europe, normally the IAA at Hannover although recently other trade shows have also provided the venue for the awards ceremony.

Development goes on

As each year passes, the International Truck of the Year Trophy grows more and more important to the vehicle manufacturers. The awards ceremony certainly attracts great interest and is an important event in its own right within the road transport calendar. However, like any other organisation the IToY cannot stand still. And as well as appointing new members, where appropriate, it has forged new links with other industries bodies, becoming a living, breathing organisation that constantly meets new possibilities and new challenges all the time. The ultimate IToY ambition is to cover all the major truck market countries in Europe. However, the enlargement of the jury will only take place where there are suitably-qualified candidates for jury membership.

As all the countries within the European Union draw ever closer together, and as truck manufacturing becomes increasingly a 'global' pursuit, it's obvious that what first started in northern Britain in 1976 more than 30 years ago has grown beyond all recognition from its humble roots. Today, International Truck of the Year is a mature and highly-respected institution within the European Road transport industry.

Tiit Tamme
Former IToY chairman