Just hours after the prestigious Oscars were handed out in Hollywood, one of the biggest awards ceremonies for car manufacturers took place 6,000 miles away in Geneva – revealing the 2018 European Car of the Year.
For the first time in its history, the gong went to Volvo for its compact and very classy XC40, which was voted ahead of six other nominees up for the prize by 60 motoring journalists from 23 countries, including the UK.
The British-designed XC40 received 325 votes, outscoring the 242 votes for runner-up the Seat Ibiza and third-placed BMW 5 Series, with 226 votes.
Award winner: Hakan Samuelsson, CEO of Volvo Car Group, poses with the winner’s trophy next to Volvo XC40 model after it was elected Car of the Year 2018
The announcement was made in Geneva ahead of the motor show kicking off tomorrow (Tuesday).
In a Eurovision-style tallying of points, a big screen cut to the representatives from each of the voting nations who revealed their favourites, with the six nominees made up by the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi A8, BMW 5 Series, Citroen C3 Aircross, Kia Stinger, Seat Ibiza and Volvo’s eventual winner.
Despite picking up the European Car of the Year award for the first time, this isn’t first trophy given to the Swedish brand this year.
The XC40 already pocketed the 2018 What Car? of the Year award in January, followed by the XC60 being given the honour of UK Car of the Year a matter of weeks later.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the largest of it’s SUV range – the XC90 – won North American Truck of the Year, while the XC60 also took the award for Utility of the Year at the same ceremony.
Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars, said winning the award was ‘perfect timing’ for the Swedish car maker, which is now owned by Chinese manufacturing group Geely.
While the larger XC60 and XC90 have been going great guns for years, the compact SUV market is becoming one of the most fiercely fought sectors on the continent.
This was the second honour given to the all-new XC40 after it picked up the award for 2018 What Car? of the Year in January
It will hope the double award for the XC40 – priced from £27,905 to £40,355 – will see it favoured over other small SUVs on the market.
‘Volvo now has three globally available SUVs in its range for the first time,’ Samuelsson added.
‘The XC40 will be a strong contributor to further growth, taking us into a new and fast-growing small SUV segment.’
The new model is already proving popular, with early orders surpassing the 20,000 mark with buyers in Europe and the US already placing deposits.
The XC40 will also be sold in China – the world’s biggest car market – where demand is expected to be strong.
Volvo’s Hakan Samuelsson (right) receives the trophy from the hands of Jury president Frank Janssen
The Seat Ibiza (left) was the runner-up in the awards. It was followed by the BMW 5 Series (right)
Last year, Volvo announced its commitment to electrify all if its cars launched from 2019.
That means a hybrid and pure electric version of the XC40 is due later in its cycle, with other electrified models also set to use the same platform underpinning the award-winning vehicle.
‘We have a clear strategy for growth and we are committed to leading in automotive safety, connectivity services and electrification,’ added Samuelsson.
‘The XC40 reflects that commitment, and looking at the response from our customers and from the COTY jury here today, we are on the right track.’
Read our full report on the Volvo XC40 to find out everything you need to know about the award winner.
Monday afternoon’s awards marks the unofficial start of the Geneva auto show, now in its 88th edition.
Last year’s winner was the Peugeot 3008.
While the honour is said to boost sales, quite a few not-so-popular models have taken the award over the previous 54 years.
See the full list of winners below:
EVERY EUROPEAN CAR OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNER
1964 Rover 2000
1965 Austin 1800
1966 Renault 16
1967 Fiat 124
1968 NSU Ro 80
1969 Peugeot 504
1970 Fiat 128
1971 Citroën GS
1972 Fiat 127
1973 Audi 80
1974 Mercedes 450SE
1975 Citroën CX
1976 Simca 1307-1308
1977 Rover 3500
1978 Porsche 928
1979 Simca-Chrysler Horizon
1980 Lancia Delta
1981 Ford Escort Mk.III
1982 Renault 9
1983 Audi 100
1984 Fiat Uno
1985 Vauxhall Kadett
1986 Ford Scorpio
1987 Vauxhall Omega
1988 Peugeot 405
1989 Fiat Tipo
1990 Citroën XM
1991 Renault Clio
1992 VW Golf
1993 Nissan Micra
1994 Ford Mondeo
1995 Fiat Punto
1996 Fiat Bravo/Brava
1997 Renault Mégane Scénic
1998 Alfa Romeo 156
1999 Ford Focus
2000 Toyota Yaris
2001 Alfa Romeo 147
2002 Peugeot 307
2003 Renault Mégane
2004 Fiat Panda
2005 Toyota Prius
2006 Renault Clio
2007 Ford S-Max
2008 Fiat 500
2009 Vauxhall Insignia
2010 VW Polo
2011 Nissan Leaf
2012 Vauxhall Ampera
2013 VW Golf
2014 Peugeot 308
2015 VW Passat
2016 Vauxhall Astra
2017 Peugeot 3008
2018 Volvo XC40
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