Monday, May 20, 2019

Since 2013, the England-based industry magazine Professional Driver has honored the private car, chauffeur, and taxi industry with a black-tie event that recognizes the companies, teams, and individuals who maintain the integrity and high-touch service that exemplify luxury chauffeured transportation.

Qsi The iChauffeur team celebrates being recognized as the medium-sized Chauffeur Company of the Year This year was no exception. On November 23, a crowd of more than 450 guests included the chauffeurs usually waiting in parked cars outside galas and special events who found themselves in the middle of the action—often, right in the spotlight—as well as the decision-makers who have navigated their companies through the perilous, uncharted territory of existing alongside TNCs and were celebrated for their myriad successes.

An independent panel of four industry-entrenched judges—including ProDriver Editor Mark Bursa—selected the honorees, who were recognized for everything from creative marketing approaches, community contributions, and continually elevating the perception of the U.K.’s private car industry from the busy streets of London to the remote northern corners and everywhere between.

Chauffeur Company of the Year, 1-10 vehicles
Qsi The Gold Community Award went to the Street Cars team in recognition of their willingness to provide free taxis on election day, pay for the local mosque’s food during Ramadan, help with local charities, and more Gold – Orion Luxury (London)
Silver – Cole Executive Hire (Malmesbury)
Bronze – Chauffeur Travel (Bath)

Chauffeur Company of the Year, 11-30 vehicles
Gold – iChauffeur (London)
Silver – Driven UK (Horley)
Bronze – Herts Executive (Welwyn Garden City)

Chauffeur Company of the Year, 31+ vehicles
Gold – Club Class Chauffeurs (Hailsham)
Silver – Brunel (London)
Bronze – Little’s Chauffeur Drive (Glasgow)
Bronze – Premiere Chauffeur Drive (London)

Qsi The unanimous winner of the Private Hire Company of the Year (81+ vehicles) was Parker Car Service, chosen for its innovative ­competitiveness and for “leading the dialogue about how to progress the industry in the right way” Private Hire Company of the Year, 1-80 vehicles
Gold – Go Green Taxis (Didcot)
Silver – Cabs Smart (Ipswich)
Silver – Location Cars (London)
Bronze – Castle Cars (Tonbidge)

Private Hire Company of the Year, 81+ vehicles
Gold – Parker Car Service (London)
Silver – Royal Cars (Oxford)
Silver – Carrot Cars (London)

Marketing Award
Gold – GLH (London)
Silver – Addison Lee (London)
Bronze – Go Green Taxis (Didcot)

Qsi The Special Recognition Award honored all of the North-west professional drivers who rushed to concert-goers’ aid in the face of tragedy and was given to the Street Cars team for their pivotal role in providing rides to those who had just survived a bombing this past May New Start Business
Gold – Orion Luxury (London)
Silver – London Luxury Chauffeuring (London)
Bronze – Myhills Mini Coaches (Cambridge)

Community Award
Gold – Street Cars (Manchester)
Silver – GLH (London)
Bronze – Solway Private Hire (Silloth)

Environmental Award
Gold – Addison Lee (London)
Silver – Greentomato Cars (London)
Bronze – Cloud Cars (Nottingham)

Professional Driver of the Year
Qsi The GLH team proudly brandishes the Gold Marketing Award they received for developing a bold, people-forward campaign to reach younger passengers Gold – Hilary Hutchinson (Lakeland Chauffeurs)
Silver – Simon Peacock (Capstar Chauffeurs)
Bronze – Marc Brodie (GLH)
Bronze – Bogdan Tepes (Herts Executive)

While the Professional Driver of the Year is a hard act to follow and typically serves as the evening’s grand finale, there was a surprise last call this year. The Special Recognition Award, befitting its name, had a particularly significant meaning in the wake of the tragic, fatal bombing at a concert in Manchester this past spring.

In a time of chaos and confusion, chauffeurs from all over the region prioritized people over profit to safely ferry dazed concert-goers and bystanders to safer grounds free of charge. According to Bursa, who presented the award, among those leading the rally to help was Sameer Arshad of Street Cars—the evening’s 2017 Community Award Gold medalist—who "asked all his drivers to pick up as many people in need of rides home or to the hospital as possible." Qsi Professional Driver of the Year Hilary Hutchinson of Lakeland Chauffeurs displays the trophy that honors her commitment to the career she only began four years ago He reportedly told his drivers: "This is our city, at the end of the day. Money’s not everything."

"On May 22, a suicide bomber murdered 22 people and injured more than 60 as they left an Ariana Grande concert at the MEN Arena in Manchester," Bursa said before inviting Arshad up to the stage to accept the award "on behalf of all the north-western taxi and private hire companies and drivers who went well beyond the call of duty" to become the city’s fourth emergency service on that terrible night.

Bursa added: "Many drivers and operators turned off their meters and offered free rides to get people to safety. Some drivers abandoned their cars and went inside the police cordon on foot to find their frightened customers and escort them out of danger and back to the car. Drivers from all across the region offered to help. Companies from Liverpool sent cars to Manchester, and the local taxi firms worked through the night, without pay, to get people home safely."

The evening also saw the eighth presentation of the Professional Driver Car of the Year awards, selected by readers of the magazine after a full day of testing more than 60 vehicles back in August. This year’s big winners were:

Chauffeur Car of the Year: BMW 740Le xDrive Exclusive
Green Car of the Year: Hyundai Ioniq Electric Premium SE
Luxury SUV of the Year: Volvo XC60 D5 Inscription
Executive Car of the Year: Mercedes-Benz E220d AMG Line
GMPV of the Year: Mercedes-Benz V250d AMG Line Extra Long
Estate Car of the Year: BMW 530d Touring xDrive M Sport
2017 Professional Driver Car of the Year: Mercedes-Benz E220d AMG

Visit prodrivermags.com/qsi-home for more information about and photos from the award ceremony.   [CD0118]