Understanding the Automotive News PACE Awards Process

As discussed in our last blog post Three Reasons Automotive Suppliers Should Pursue the Automotive News PACE Award,” automotive and mobility suppliers – especially those involved in new technologies for the electric vehicle, connected vehicle, ADAS and autonomous driving, and shared mobility sectors –an Automotive News PACE Award win can help set your company apart from the pack.

Why? Four top reasons include:

1. The PACE Award offers two programs for nominations, offering opportunities for innovations in various stages of production;

2. It has a long history as a credible and respected recognition;

3. It attracts leading global suppliers; and

4. It provides terrific publicity and recognition, not only for your product but also your people.

Now that we’ve got you intrigued, it’s time to discuss what the PACE Award submission process entails and how you can ace it. Nominations to submit an innovation for consideration are open now through June 16, 2023.

This is important because to submit a successful nomination, you’ll need the support from a number of departments, including product development, sales, engineering, plant managers, legal and more, as well as customers.

It’s not a simple or quick process, but it’s well worth your time and effort.

It’s important to note that the PACE Award and the PACEpilot Award processes are different, with the PACEpilot Award program being a scaled down version (there is no required site visit or customer reference requirement) of the full PACE Award submission. Another note, there is a cost to submit a nomination: $2,000 for a PACE Award application; and $1,000 for a PACEpilot application.  

In this post, we’ll explore the process for the PACE Award program.

Step 1: Nomination Form

Visit and create an account to access the application, which – in the past –  is broken down into a few key sections.

Section 1: Key Company & Product Information

This section is for basic product and company details, including:

  • Formal title of innovation;
  • Executive summary (200 to 250 words): this is where you explain why the product/technology has the potential to change the mobility industry;
  • Date launched;
  • First customer: this area requires you to identify the initial vehicle program, SOP, estimated annual volumes and forecasted market penetration of the innovation;
  • Location for the finalist site visit: if you innovation is named a Finalist, this is the location where the judging team will go to interact with the innovators and get an in-depth view of the innovation;
  • Product website (in applicable);
  • Business until responsible for the innovation; and
  • Key contact information.

Section 2: Innovation Deep Dive

This is the section where you provide the deep, technical details for the innovation:

  • Innovation narrative, including problem, scope and solution and an expanded Executive Summary;
  • Customer acceptance: name the OEMs that have committed to the innovation, including program, commitment status, SOP, volumes and penetration;
  • Comparative impact: discuss how the innovation is a gamechanger for the mobility industry;
  • Performance measures: discuss the critical measures / benchmarks / targets for the innovation and how it performed against them;
  • Innovation challenges: discuss the significant obstacles in developing the innovation and bringing it to market;
  • Co-applicant: indicate any external entities, if any, who contributed critical elements to the creation/development of the innovation. They consider major contributors to be ≥ ~40-50% of critical innovation elements;
  • Patents and awards: list noteworthy recognition received by the innovation;
  • Other (optional): an area to provide insight not covered by prior questions; and
  • Collaboration (optional): if the innovation is an example of extreme collaboration.

Section 3: Attachments and Supplemental Materials

In this section, you attach any and all supplemental materials that support your nomination.

PRO TIP #1: The key here is to provide all the pertinent details while emphasizing the big picture on what your innovation means in terms of changing the future of the mobility industry.

Step 2: Finalists Announced

Prior to the Finalists being named publicly via email and in a print edition of Automotive News, the point person listed on the nomination form will be contacted via email with the result of the initial evaluation.

Should your technology be named a Finalist, this is a great opportunity to issue a news release (after the official Automotive News announcement) and social media campaign.

PRO TIP #2: Make sure you wait to announce your Finalist status until Automotive News does but be ready to share the news via a news release, customer email, internal communications and social media channels as soon as possible, leveraging Automotive News’ announcement.

Step 3:  Site Visit / Customer Conversations

Shortly after Automotive News makes the Finalist announcement, you will be given the names of your judges (typically two to three) and the date for your Site Visit.

It’s important to note the final selection of PACE Award winners is done by the larger committee of independent PACE program judges (approximately 20). Your team of two or three judges are tasked with gathering the needed information to author reports that are an important voice in final deliberations among the entire panel of judges.

A vital part of those reports is the judges’ conversation with your customer references. While the nominee is responsible for scheduling and incorporating those conversations (via phone or video chat) into the Site Visit, the nominee is not a part of that discussion.

PACE suggests that Finalists plan for an entire day with several conversations throughout the day’s agenda with the judges assigned to evaluate their innovation.

To help plan the visit, PACE provides all Finalists with a Site Visit Planning Guide with vital information and insights for planning a successful visit.

PRO TIP #3:  Make sure to plan some breaks throughout the day for the judges to step away from the process. This can be as simple as a coffee break that enables the judges to catch up on email, compare notes or chat amongst themselves to see if there are any gaps in what they’re hearing.

Step 4: Live Award Ceremony

The final step is to plan your outfit for the Black-Tie Award Ceremony … and prepare for a potential win.

Automotive News will reach out with video, image and administrative requests that will be incorporated throughout the evening. Ensure that your team gets those submitted on time to make sure your innovation shines as brightly as possible.

PRO TIP #4: We suggest you be ready to maximize the impact of a potential win by having drafts and distribution plans in place for a winner’s news release, a social media campaign and any special advertising you’d want to do. Also ensure that key members of your team are onsite at the event and are prepared to accept your award should your technology take home a coveted PACE Award.

So that’s an overview of the Automotive News PACE Award program. It’s an extensive process that requires the collaborative effort of several departments within your organization but well worth the work put into it.

Be sure to check back for the final PACE Award blog where we share best practices and key insight.

Author: Adriana Van Duyn

Adriana is an account supervisor at Bianchi PR with more than 18 years of B2B PR experience representing clients across the automotive, mobility and industrial sectors.

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