World Car Awards – Do EVs still deserve their own category?

World Car Awards – Do EVs still deserve their own category?

Having been a long-serving jury member of the World Car Awards programme, it has been interesting seeing it evolve into its current form. The last few rounds have also highlighted how far behind South Africa has fallen in terms of the availability of the cars that make the cut. And I have some suggestions…

First, however, a quick look back at the finalists and winners for this year’s World Car Awards. Overall honours went to Hyundai’s Ioniq6 (an electric vehicle). In fact, it was the Korean marque’s second win on a trot, with the Ionic5 EV taking the overall spoils as well as the Electric Car of the Year and World Car Design trophies last year (as did the Ioniq6 this year).

Hyundai Ioniq 5
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV may be used on an EV trial basis by Hyundai SA.

At present Hyundai South Africa has no confirmed plans to bring either of these models to the market, but it will be importing Ioniq5 trial units to familiarise itself with the tech and challenges. According to a spokesperson, price remains the biggest stumbling block. 

This year, the World Performance Car of the Year trophy was scooped by the Kia EV6 GT, beating noteworthy rivals such as the Toyota GR Corolla and the new Nissan Z to the prize. Similarly to Hyundai, Kia has no finalised plans to bring the EV6 to the South African market, although “studies are ongoing”.

The World Luxury Car trophy went to the Lucid Air, another EV, which has no representation in South Africa, and which beat the highly-rated (and locally available) BMW i7 to the Award.

Lucid Air World Car of the Year
The Lucid Air (also a full EV) won World Luxury Car of the Year.

Overall there are six categories and three top finalists in each of those. This year, out of the 18 Top 3 finalist spots, 12 were occupied by EVs (though judges could also vote on the hybrid/ICE variants of the Kia Niro, BMW 7 Series/i7 and BMW X1/iX1 line-ups). The only entirely ICE top 3 finalists were the Volkswagen Taigo, Range Rover, Genesis G90, Toyota GR Corolla, Nissan Z and Citroen C3 (the latter due for launch in South Africa soon).

The World Car Awards jury is made up of around 100 judges, from 32 countries, and I can only imagine that those judges in countries that are not at the forefront of the EV revolution are in a similar position to me. To be fair, the GWM/Ora Funky Cat, GR Corolla, Citroen C3 etc will become available in South Africa, but too late for me (and my fellow South African judges) to vote on them. 

Ford Ranger WildTrak
Is it time for a World Pick-Up category to make the awards more globally relevant?

So, what’s the way forward? Personally, I think EVs have become so dominant on the new-vehicle launch cycle that they no longer merit a category of their own. As this year’s results have shown, EVs are capable of winning in any of the non-EV-specific categories, anyway.

To make this a truly World Car Awards programme, a way will have to be found to include developing nations such as ours. How about a World Pick-Up of the Year award or even an Affordable Car of the Year award? What categories would you suggest?

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