SOUTHFIELD, MI – The first Wards 10 Best engines event in 1995 was a modest affair, a few dozen powertrain engineers seated in a windowless room at what was then known as the Detroit Auto Show.
But there were a lot of prominent figures there, including legendary engineer and former General Motors CEO Robert Stempel.
Stempel spoke about how important it was to have an event that publicly recognized people who were spending long hours doing crucial work, such as cleaning up air pollution, making vehicles more fuel efficient, or finding new ways to make cars more appealing to a new generation of skeptical consumers.
Twenty-five years later, the Wards 10 Best Engines Awards event attracts hundreds of the industry’s best engineers and executives from around the world and it still is focused on its original mission: recognizing engineering achievement in its many forms. But now that electrified powertrains account for about 40% of the annual awards, a change is being made.
WardsAuto today announced it has renamed its Wards 10 Best Engines competition to Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems, to reflect the increasing diversity in automotive powertrains. Hundreds of industry executives will celebrate Wards Auto’s 25th anniversary of this award during special events today at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center.
“We’ve been thinking about a name change for many years because we need to better reflect the growing variety of engines and propulsion systems in the automotive market,” said Tom Murphy, managing editor at WardsAuto.
“In 2018 and 2019, four of the 10 Best Engines’ winners had electrified powertrains – that means hybrids, battery-electrics, even hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electrics. We’ve been recognizing electrified powertrains since the Toyota Prius made our list in 2001. We look forward to a future filled with engines and propulsion systems that thrill us with outstanding performance and groundbreaking technology.”
To commemorate the new name and the 25th anniversary of the award, a private reception was held this morning prior to celebrating the 2019 winners.
“It’s a real tribute to Wards that the 10 Best Engines has achieved its 25-year milestone,” said Dan Nicholson, vice president of Global Propulsion Systems at General Motors Co. “Our company has been celebrating its victories for the entire 25 years. It is a real motivation to our teams to receive this prestigious award.”
Today’s festivities included recognition of past winners from every automaker, a video history of the awards and videos created by many of the winning automakers reflecting on 25 years of powertrain development and the challenges ahead. Those videos, along with a series of guest articles, will appear on WardsAuto.com in the coming months.
Also speaking at today’s 25th anniversary event was Bill Visnic, former technical editor at WardsAuto and creator of the Wards 10 Best Engines competition. The new name for the awards will take effect with the 2020 competition, which begins this fall.