As an unmistakable sign of changing times, Europe’s most prestigious automotive accolade, the 2011 Car of the Year Award could be awarded to a pure electric car for the first time.
The seven-car shortlist, launched today, includes Nissan’s revolutionary Leaf, on sale in Europe from the beginning of next year, and scheduled to be built in Britain at Nissan’s Sunderland plant from 2013.
The other cars shortlisted for the 2011 competition are the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Citroen C3/DS3, Dacia Duster, Ford C-Max, Opel/Vauxhall Meriva and Volvo S60/V60. The results will be seen as early affirmation of the broadened appeal of the new Golf-sized Alfa (first to use an all-new platform) and also reflect the abrupt improvement of Citroen’s supermini models.
The good reception for the Ford C-Max bodes well for next year’s Focus hatchback, which uses the same mechanicals and is a contender to become one of the world’s best-selling cars beyond 2011.
And the revived Volvo company, recently sold to Chinese owner Geely, will be buoyed by the success of the sleek S60 and its estate offshoot, produced under the company’s period of Ford ownership. The success of Opel-Vauxhall’s Meriva, much improved and now related under the skin to the larger Zafira people-carrier, maintains the preference the 59-strong jury, from 23 countries, has traditionally shows for compact people-carriers.
COTY was among the first to recognise the type, giving the award to the Renault Megane Scenic in 1997.