Motoring

Volkswagen ID.4 wins 2021 World Car of the Year, Australian showroom arrival held up by lax electric-car policy

The electric Volkswagen ID.4 SUV has been named 2021 World Car of the Year. However it could be years before it arrives in local showrooms.

The Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV has won the 2021 World Car of the Year award, as voted by 93 judges from 28 countries – although many jurors were not able to drive the winning vehicle due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The revolutionary car – which blends family-sized SUV practicality with pure electric power – is not likely to be introduced in Australia anytime soon as Volkswagen prioritises countries with strict vehicle emissions reduction targets.

A representative for Volkswagen Australia said the VW ID.4 would be “the ideal vehicle to commence the brand’s zero emission roll out in Australia”. 

However, he said, “Volkswagen has no choice but to prioritise markets that have significant financial penalties for not achieving (vehicle emissions) targets.” 

In the interim, the Volkswagen representative said, the German car maker is “all but begging” the Australian government for “meaningful regulation.”

While the Volkswagen ID.4 won the outright World Car of the Year award for 2021, other category winners included the Honda E electric hatchback (World Urban Car), Land Rover Defender 4WD (World Car Design of the Year), Porsche 911 Turbo sports car (World Performance Car) and Mercedes-Benz S-Class limousine (World Luxury Car).

The 2021 result was the fifth outright win for Volkswagen in the 17-year history of the World Car of the Year awards – and the third electric vehicle to take out top honours, following the Jaguar I-Pace (2019) and first generation Nissan Leaf (2011).

Electric vehicles have also performed increasingly well in other World Car of the Year segments, taking out 12 category awards since 2011. In 2019, the Jaguar I-Pace electric car won three out of the five World Car of the Year awards.

Accepting the award on behalf of Volkswagen after the ID.4 won top honours among 24 vehicles nominated for 2021, Ralf Brandstätter, the global boss of Volkswagen Cars said in a media statement: “We are particularly pleased about our ID.4 being named ‘World Car of the Year’, not only because it is one of the most important car awards in the world, but because the jury also honoured a great idea and a great team.”

The Volkswagen ID.4 will initially be sold in Europe, China and the US, the company said, before it is introduced in other markets.

Disclosure: CarAdvice National Motoring Editor, Joshua Dowling, has been a World Car of the Year judge since 2010.

Eligibility: The 93 judges from 28 countries can only vote on vehicles they have driven. The votes are vetted by accounting firm KPMG. Vehicles eligible for the World Car of the Year award must be produced in volumes of at least 10,000 units per year, must be priced below the luxury-car level in their primary markets, and must be on sale in at least two major markets, on at least two separate continents, between May 1, 2020 and May 1, 2021.

World Car of the Year awards: previous winners

Volkswagen ID.4 – World Car of the Year

Mercedes-Benz S-Class – World Luxury Car

Porsche 911 Turbo – World Performance Car

Honda E – World Urban Car

Land Rover Defender – World Car Design of the Year

Kia Telluride – World Car of the Year

Porsche Taycan – World Luxury Car

Porsche Taycan – World Performance Car

Kia Soul EV – World Urban Car

Mazda3 – World Car Design of the Year

Jaguar I-PACE – World Car of the Year

Audi A7 – World Luxury Car

McLaren 720S – World Performance Car

Jaguar I-PACE – World Green Car

World Urban Car – Suzuki Jimny

Jaguar I-PACE – World Car Design of the Year

Volvo XC60 – World Car of the Year

Audi A8 – World Luxury Car

BMW M5 – World Performance Car

Nissan LEAF – World Green Car

Volkswagen Polo – World Urban Car

Range Rover Velar – World Car Design of the Year

Jaguar F-PACE – World Car of the Year

Mercedes-Benz E-Class – World Luxury Car

Porsche Boxster Cayman – World Performance Car

Toyota Prius Prime – World Green Car

BMW i3 – World Urban Car

Jaguar F-PACE – World Car Design of the Year

Mazda MX-5 – World Car of the Year

BMW 7 Series – World Luxury Car

Audi R8 Coupe – World Performance Car

Toyota Mirai – World Green Car

Mazda MX-5 – World Car Design of the Year

Mercedes-Benz C-Class – World Car of the Year

Mercedes-Benz S Coupé – World Luxury Car

Mercedes-Benz AMG GT – World Performance Car

BMW i8 – World Green Car

Citroen C4 Cactus – World Car Design of the Year

Audi A3 – World Car of the Year

Mercedes-Benz S-Class – World Luxury Car

Porsche 911 GT3 – World Performance Car

BMW i3 – World Green Car

BMW i3 – World Car Design of the Year

Volkswagen Golf – World Car of the Year

Porsche Boxster/Cayman – World Performance Car

Tesla Model S – World Green Car

Jaguar F-Type – World Car Design of the Year

Volkswagen Up – World Car of the Year

Porsche 911 – World Performance Car

Mercedes-Benz S 250 CDI – World Green Car

Range Rover Evoque – World Car Design of the Year

Nissan LEAF – World Car of the Year

Ferrari 458 Italia – World Performance Car

Chevrolet Volt – World Green Car

Aston Martin Rapide – World Car Design of the Year

Volkswagen Polo – World Car of the Year

Audi R8 V10 – World Performance Car

Volkswagen Golf, Passat, Polo BlueMotion – World Green Car

Chevrolet Camaro – World Car Design of the Year

Volkswagen Golf VI – World Car of the Year

Nissan GT-R – World Performance Car

Honda FCX Clarity – World Green Car

Fiat 500 – World Car Design of the Year

Mazda2 – World Car of the Year

Audi R8 – World Performance Car

BMW 118d – World Green Car

Audi R8 – World Car Design of the Year

Lexus LS460 – World Car of the Year

Audi RS4 – World Performance Car

Mercedes-Benz E320 – World Green Car

Audi TT – World Car Design of the Year

BMW 3-Series – World Car of the Year

Porsche Cayman S – World Performance Car

Honda Civic Hybrid – World Green Car

Citroen C4 – World Car Design of the Year

Audi A6 – World Car of the Year

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team), and then News Corp Australia. He has been with CarAdvice since late 2018 and is a World Car of the Year judge. 

Joshua covers motoring news, car reviews and comparison tests – and has a keen interest in all aspects of the automotive industry, including price movements, sales data and consumer protection. He assesses in excess of 150 cars per year to stay current with new models. 

When working for News Corp Australia he covered the factory shutdowns of the Ford, Toyota and Holden factories in 2016 and 2017 – and the debate leading up to those decisions, including interviewing global executives in Detroit. Dowling also broke the news in early 2020 that Holden would exit Australia for good, ahead of other mainstream media and motoring media outlets. 

Dowling has a passion for affordable cars and commercial vehicles and, in particular, double cab utes. He believes electric cars will eventually become a part of our motoring lives – once cost and range anxiety issues are resolved. 

See all of Joshua’s articles


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