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Koreans, Electrified Vehicles Dominate World Car Awards

by | March 27, 2024

The Kia EV9 was named World Car of the Year during a ceremony at the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday, with Korean vehicles winning three of the six awards handed out by a panel of journalists from around the world. The annual event had more than a few surprises. 

Ferrari Purosanuge was up for world design award but lost to an unexpected challenger.

The World Car awards, celebrating their 20th anniversary, brought some unexpected results this year, including the first-time appearance of a Chinese automaker among the finalists. BYD placed vehicles in two of the six categories, the BYD Dolphin nominated for World Urban Car of the Year, and the BYD Seal competing with the Kia EV9 for World Car of the Year honors.

Both of those were EVs – which fit the tenor of this year World Car Awards. The winners in all six categories were either sold only in electrified form or, as with the new BMW 5-Series, offered both gas and battery-based options.

Here’s who captured this year’s World Car awards.

World Car of the Year

Kia team accepts award for World Car of the Year.

Landing a spot as a finalist among the world’s best vehicles could clearly be seen as a coup for BYD, the Chinese automaker whose formal name, appropriately enough, is “Bring Your Dreams.” The list also included the new Volvo EX30.

But the trophy went to the new Kia EV9, a three-row all-electric vehicle that has already nabbed a number of other honors, among other thing named North American Car of the Year back in January. In fact, the EV9 took two trophies home on Wednesday

“We take these awards as a sign we are on the right track,” said Jose Munoz, the chief operating officer of the Hyundai Motor Co., which counts Kia among its three brands.

World Car Design of the Year

2024 Toyota Prius - front

It was a surprise

In what was perhaps the biggest surprise when World Car jurors announced their list of finalists earlier this year, the design award pitted three brands you normally wouldn’t expect to see in competition: Ford, Toyota and Ferrari.

The Italian automaker’s first crossover, the Purosangue, has already won numerous honors for its sleek and exotic design. But the award went to a vehicle that has, if anything, traditionally been the object of derision for its geeky shape, the Toyota Prius.

That was, of course, before the automaker introduced the fifth-generation Prius which adopted a sculpted, coupe-like shape unlike anything Toyota had used before. It does, however, retain its electrified driveline, the Prius using a conventional hybrid system, with the Prius Prime getting a plug-in hybrid.

More NY Auto Show News

World Urban Car of the Year

2024 Volvo EX30 - by Tivoli Theatre beauty shot

The Volvo EX30 will be one of three EVs coming from the Swedish automaker in 2024.

One of the newest additions to the World Car awards group, the Urban Car category focuses on the sort of small and energy-efficient vehicles that are sought out by those living in crowded cities around the world. Not surprisingly, it was one of the two categories to feature a Chinese product, the BYD Dolphin. The pint-sized Lexus LBX was another finalist.

But the award ultimately went to Volvo’s new EX30, a pint-sized EV that is the first in what will be an extended line-up of dedicated battery-electric vehicles from the Swedish automaker. Small on the outside, EX30 is surprisingly roomy inside and provides plenty of features and performance at a reasonable price tag

Significantly, the EX30 was a finalist in two other categories, including World Car of the Year, as well as World Electric Vehicle of the Year.

World Electric Vehicle of the Year

Kia EV9 also won the Utility of the Year award at the 2024 NACTOY Awards

Along with the EX30, the finalists in this increasingly crowded category included the new BMW i5, an all-electric version of the familiar 5-Series sedan, as well as the Kia EV9.

And the Korean utility vehicle nabbed its second win in this category.

The EV9 has struck a resonant note in a number of markets, especially the U.S. For those looking for a roomy battery-electric vehicle, the options have been limited. At least until now. Kia added a new dimension to the EV market with the launch of its second dedicated model last year.

World Performance Car of the Year

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N rear 3-4 driving REL

Ioniq 5 N won World Performance Car Of The Year

If any category resonates with automotive journalists – if not the public at large – this is it. And jurors had a strong list of entries to consider this year. They ultimately settled on two BMW models, the M2 and the XM.

But it was another Korean offering that took home the honors, the new Hyundai Ioniq 5 N. Electric motors make massive amounts of torque. And that’s what Hyundai is set to take advantage of with the 2025 Ioniq 5 N. The high-performance version of the automaker’s all-electric SUV could make traditional muscle car fans weep.

“Ioniq 5 N was developed to take driving fun to a new level by utilizing the latest technologies available,” Till Wartenberg, vice president and head of N Brand and Motorsport at Hyundai Motor Company, said when the performance EV was introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November.

World Luxury Car of the Year

2024 BMW i5 M60 - front 3-4

The i5 M60 is one of at least three all-electric versions of the 8th-gen 5-Series BMW is bringing to market.

Two of the finalists in the luxury car category are offered in electrified form. BMW has both a conventional, gas-powered version of the new 5-Series, as well as the all-electric i5, available for potential buyers.

Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, landed two spots with the newly redesigned, gas-powered E-Class, as well as the all-new, all-electric EQE SUV.

BMW brings the Luxury Car trophy back to Bavaria with the 5-Series/i5 pair.


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