Everybody loves a winner.
Amesaward.com hopes consumers love winners of its award so much that automakers will pay to mention the award in their advertising.
The e-business uses fuel-economy and emissions data from sources such as the EPA, the Department of Energy and forecasting services to make its Ames Award, which stands for Automotive Market Environmental Sensitivity. The second annual list of winners was released this month.
Amesaward.com is headed by co-founders Lawrence Ranka, a former Chrysler engineer who spent the early part of his career at the EPA, and William Mattick, who has worked in the auto industry for 35 years. It is their intention to reach what Ranka calls 'Generation E' - or environmentally concerned consumers.
Ranka says, 'An automobile purchase is the most environmentally sensitive decision a consumer can make.'
The two saw a need for a concise evaluation of automobiles based on environmental issues; something that didn't force car buyers to decipher technical data.
Mattick says it boils down to 'if you pick an Ames winner, you've contributed to sustaining the environment.'
Ranka and Mattick are banking on the idea that automakers will want to use the award as a marketing tool. That would involve paying a licensing fee to amesaward.com.
This year, 54 awards were given to 13 manufacturers in 15 classes, with 15 getting the 'best' ranking and 39 rated as 'preferred.' The companies that received the most were Toyota (11), General Motors (10) and Ford (9).
If, as amesaward.com hopes, its award gains in prestige, the situation would be similar to the one in which J.D. Power and Associates found itself during the mid to late 1980s. In that era, automobile quality became a major marketing issue.
According to Kristina Ferrin, manager of licensing and permission for J.D. Power, automakers began using the company's automotive awards on their own accord, until it seemed as if everyone had some sort of J.D. Power award. So, in the early 1990s a licensing agreement was created.
'We had to rein in control over the use of our name to maintain impact in the industry,' says Ferrin.
While they wait to see if the Ames Award reaches that point, Ranka and Mattick are trying to reach consumers through amesaward.com and other auto-purchasing service sites such as edmunds.com and polk.com.