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What Are the World Car Awards?

by Scott Kacsmar
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World Car Awards

The World Car Awards celebrate 20 years as the top annual event to honor the best in the automobile industry. The winners for the 2024 World Car Awards will be announced during this year’s ceremony on Wednesday, March 27, and you can even bet on them at top sportsbooks like BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review to learn more).

If you have never heard of this award show before, we have you covered with the history and the types of awards they hand out each year.

Origins of the World Car Awards

The World Car Awards was imagined in 2003 and officially launched in January 2004, so this is the 20-year anniversary of its existence. It has also been known as the World Car of the Year (WCOTY).

This has become the premier award for cars since it is a global panel of voters. The WCOTY has been chosen by a panel of roughly 102 automotive journalists from 30 different countries.

The History of the World Car Awards

Initially, only one award was handed out for the World Car of the Year when the Audi A6 won in 2005. The eligibility criteria has traditionally included the following:

  • Cars that launched and went on sale in the last year.
  • Must be sold in at least 2 major markets (USA, China, Europe, India, Japan, Latin America or Korea).
  • Must also be sold on at least 2 separate continents prior to March 30 of the award’s year.
  • Must be produced in volumes of at least 10,000 units/year.
  • Must be priced below the luxury car level in their primary market.
  • Judges value criteria including design, engineering excellence, efficiency, safety, and value.

Each year, the path to this award has been hyped as the Road to the World Car Awards with the 100-plus automobile journalists who vote traveling to test drive the vehicles that are eligible to win the awards.

But every award show should have a top prize like Best Picture at the Oscars or Album of the Year at the Grammys. For the World Car Awards, World Car of the Year is still the top honor. Here is the list of winners for each year since 2005:

  • 2005: Audi A6
  • 2006: BMW 3 Series
  • 2007: Lexus LS 460
  • 2008: Mazda2 / Demio
  • 2009: Volkswagen Golf Mk6
  • 2010: Volkswagen Polo
  • 2011: Nissan Leaf
  • 2012: Volkswagen up!
  • 2013: Volkswagen Golf Mk7
  • 2014: Audi A3
  • 2015: Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W205)
  • 2016: Mazda MX-5
  • 2017: Jaguar F-Pace
  • 2018: Volvo XC60
  • 2019: Jaguar I-Pace
  • 2020: Kia Telluride
  • 2021: Volkswagen ID.4
  • 2022: Hyundai Ioniq 5
  • 2023: Hyundai Ioniq 6

The Other Categories at the World Car Awards

Starting in 2006, there were 3 new categories at the World Car Awards in addition to the World Car of the Year award:

  • World Performance Car – Must be produced in volumes of at least 1,000 units/year and must be explicitly performance-focused in overall character.
  • World Green Car – Award discontinued in 2020.
  • World Car Design of the Year – Any car eligible for any other award at the World Car Awards is eligible for this one.

All awards come with the vehicle eligibility requirements of having been sold in the last year (and prior to March 30th of the current year) in multiple continents in at least 2 major markets.

Starting in 2014, a category for the World Luxury Car was introduced, which was first won by Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Requirements for this award are vehicles produced in volumes of at least 5,000 units/year and sold at a luxury-level price. Luxury cars are the only ones not eligible for the World Car of the Year award.

In 2017, another award was created to honor the World Urban Car, which was first won by BMW i3. Requirements for eligibility include being produced in volumes of at least 5,000 units/year, vehicles must be a maximum of 4.25 meters in overall length, and they have to get approval for use on public roads.

Finally, to account for advancements in the automobile industry, 2022 introduced a World Electric Vehicle award, which was won by the Hyundai Ioniq 5. This has more or less made up for the loss of the World Green Car award when it comes to awarding environmentally-conscience cars.

That brings the grand total to 6 car awards going into 2024. We should also note that starting in 2018, a Person of the Year award has been given out to highlight someone’s excellence in the automobile industry. This is often announced in February ahead of the car awards, and winners have traditionally been the CEO/President of major car manufacturers such as Volvo, Hyundai, Ferrari and Toyota.

Most Wins by Manufacturer

With nearly 2 decades of results, we have some standouts among the car manufacturers for the most total World Car Awards won and the most in different categories:

  • Most Total Wins – Audi, 11 (2 World Car of the Year, 5 World Performance Car, 2 World Car Design of the Year, 2 World Luxury Car)
  • Most World Car of the Year Wins – Volkswagen, 5 (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2021)
  • Most World Green Car Wins – BMW, 3
  • Most World Car Design of the Year Wins – tie between Jaguar and Land Rover with 3 each
  • Most World Luxury Car Wins – Mercedes-Benz, 5
  • Most World Urban Car Wins – tie (7 awards won by 7 different companies since 2017)
  • Most World Electric Vehicle Wins – Hyundai, 2

A total of 22 manufacturers have been honored with at least one award win since 2005.

Where Are the World Car Awards Held?

Now 20 years into their existence, the World Car Awards like to make each year a multi-month event. The 100-plus automobile journalists who voted on the awards were test-driving eligible vehicles themselves from September through January.

In February 2024, the 3 finalists were named for the World Car of the Year at the Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS).

All the winners for the awards will be announced live on March 27, 2024, when the World Car Awards hosts its annual event at the New York International Auto Show.

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Scott Kacsmar
NFL football picks are Scott Kacsmar's expertise, serving as his main focus. He has contributed to various sports websites and blogs, such as NBC Sports, ESPN Insider, FiveThirtyEight, and, JoeWager. Originating from Pittsburgh, Scott maintains a love-hate connection with the Pirates.

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