Changes at the top
By Mike Fourie
HERE’S a home truth, dear readers: CAR’s position as South Africa’s leading motoring magazine is not just a product of its 56-year history. It’s not enough to simply publish a monthly magazine filled with tantalising images and purple prose designed to transport petrolheads to their hearts’ desires. Many car publications have tried that, failed and gone out of business.
CAR, by contrast, has always put the South African consumer first. Yes, we entertain and inform by publishing the latest news and impressions of new vehicles in the local and international market, but our road-testing regimen curries no favour and we pride ourselves on bringing you sound, considered buying and technical advice. We’ve also thrived and trumped our competitors by evolving CAR in its various print and digital platforms to suit the prevailing market conditions and reflect the zeitgeist of South African motorists.
Our departing editor, Hannes Oosthuizen – an integral part of the editorial team since 1 June 2001, the day on which the two of us started our careers at CAR – took the helm of the magazine in late 2010 and I have been proud to serve as his deputy. In an economic climate struggling to shake off the funk of a global recession and amid new competition in the motoring-media market, Hannes harnessed social media to promote CAR’s content and activities to new readers and audiences. Every January’s Performance Shootout issue popped with celebrity appeal and, lately, free playing cards. Every other issue was brimful with road and comparative tests of a wide spectrum of vehicles – in fact, such was Hannes’s knack to secure first-in-SA tests of new releases that we feared over-using “scoop” on our covers.
Before Hannes took the helm, monthly columns didn’t take the pride of place they do now and CAR readers could only dream of designing cars and have their creations appraised and recognised by industry leaders. The record shows that, in the past two and a half years, CAR’s print circulation has been robust, CARmag.co.za’s unique-user figures have peaked at over 100 000 and a number of CAR-made videos have been viewed thousands of times by users from round the globe. Hannes has moved on to a pivotal marketing and product manager role in the motor industry, but CAR is in great shape and we thank him. (Hannes answers readers’ questions on page 44.)
Next month’s issue will be the first under the custodianship of our new editor, Steve Smith, an experienced journalist, author and editor. He brings to the team a wealth of experience in male-interest publishing, not to mention a keen interest in motoring. Steve will outline his vision for the future of CAR from the next issue and will undoubtedly introduce a raft of further enhancements to bolster our title and all its electronic offshoots. Please join me and the team in wishing him all the best for his exciting new role.