CLARINGTON, Ont. — Vehicle entries in the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada's (AJAC) car- and truck-of-the-year screening process were down sharply at this year's four-day "Test Fest" event, raising questions as to the program's ongoing relevance to automakers.
Just 34 new vehicles were entered in AJAC's 2017 Canadian Car- and Utility Vehicle of the Year, a sharp decline from recent years.
Numbers have dropped steadily each year since 2013 when 60 new vehicles were entered. AJAC has hosted the event annually since 1984.
Auto writers and journalists from across Canada attending the 2017 event (AJAC designates each Test Fest by model year of the vehicles involved) wondered was it was a blip or a sign of concerns raised by some manufacturers about the value of the program to them.
Organizers and automakers suggest it's more of the first and partly the latter.
AJAC President Michel Deslauriers attributed much of the decline to timing, given the program was developed when almost all new vehicles were launched in the fall. Today, carmakers launch vehicles throughout the year, meaning some vehicles that might have been eligible weren't available for testing.