Toyota’s fourth-generation Yaris has grabbed the automotive industry’s most prestigious award in Geneva on Monday, being crowned as the European Car of the Year 2021. Toyota’s win comes days after the new Yaris was named Europe’s bestselling car for the first time.
Since its inception in the 1960s, the highly-coveted COTY award has recognized carmakers’ innovation and design for nearly 60 years. This is the third time Toyota has won the award, with the first-generation Yaris taking the title in year 2000 followed by the Prius in 2005.
Commenting on winning the award, Matt Harrison, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Europe, said:
“This is a great honor for Toyota and I’d like to thank the jury for their consideration and recognition. I would also like to take this opportunity to recognize the passion of our development teams in Europe and Japan. This is the best-ever Yaris, and just as Akio Toyoda intended, it is already putting a smile on the face of our customers”.
Due to the ongoing global health crisis, the 2021 awards ceremony which usually takes place at the annual Geneva International Motor Show was live-streamed for the first time from the city’s empty Palexpo convention center.
The winner is awarded from 7 finalists selected by a jury of 59 members comprising of motoring journalists from 22 countries across the continent. This year’s shortlist was narrowed down from 30 new models on sale in Europe over the previous calendar year.
Having test-driven each shortlisted car, each juror has 25 points to allocate to each nominee as they see fit, meaning there is a total of 575 points awarded by the jury. The pandemic made the major test drives undertaken annually in Denmark and France impossible so arrangements had to be made for jurors to test drive each car in their own countries. According to Frank Janssen, president of the COTY jury:
“Of course, it was not easy to organize but in the end we managed. We got a lot of support from the manufacturers, that every jury member could drive every finalist car.”
Commenting on this year’s win by Toyota Yaris, Janssen said:
“I think it’s a very good compromise when you see that the Toyota Yaris has a hybrid system. If we talk about the transformation of the automotive industry from internal combustion to electrification, the Toyota Yaris is both. I think it’s a very good car for people who want electrified driving without having a plug.”