Geneva has been cancelled, but in some respects at least, the show goes on. There is after all, a car of the year to be decided. Robertas Parazitas reports, from the comfort of home.
Surreal is a word both over and mis-used, but it could apply to the 2020 European Car of the Year ceremony, delivered in the usual room in Palexpo, but with the rest of the exhibition complex near deserted, with dismantling and demobilisation already underway even before the first official press day. This time there’s no free fizz and media camaraderie, but by the grace of YouTube, the show goes on.
I’m delivering this from my desk at home, 1500km from Geneva, owing to the vigorous spread of “Novel Coronavirus Covid-19“. Dare one say it is a lot more ‘novel’ than some of the seven shortlisted contenders. Which are, let us remind ourselves:
Tesla Model 3
All praise to the fearless jurors in the tiered rows, awaiting the result in the conference room. Other media and manufacturers are excluded, for their own wellbeing.
As I write this at 2:54 CET, nobody knows which car the votes will favour. Chauvinism and prejudice still play their part, but there’s also an electric vs. internal combustion dichotomy. And of course there’s also the hard-headed consumer advisers against red-blooded enthusiasts divide.
Swiss television presenter Mélanie Freymond opens the proceedings, introducing outgoing GIMS Director Olivier Rihs. There’s a stoic air to the conversation. Around them great effort has come to nothing, but let’s look forward to next year. It’s noted that the ECotY winner will be the only announcement coming out of the Geneva Show this year.
Then it’s over to ECotY President Frank Janssen. Not too much solemnity, much is made of the independence of the contest, and the rigour of the assessment.
We are shown the customary short film of the 60 jurors from 23 European nations in action at the Mortefontaine test track, and then the votes are called.
Austria’s jurors give the Puma 18 points and the Porsche 16. Interesting. The Puma has been tipped as a possible left-field winner.
Belgium’s highest scorer is the Clio with 16 points. A return to normality?
The Czech Republic’s voter spreads the votes widely, but the Corolla scores highest with 6 points.
Denmark puts the Tesla first. Much as expected, markets with big EV tax incentives are likely to favour the Tesla, Taycan and 208.
Finland puts the Puma first. The 208 is ahead, but Clio, Taycan, and Tesla are still in the running.
France gives the Clio 42 points and the 208 36 points. Should anyone be surprised?
Germany. Another big voting block. Taycan first with 38 points, BMW and Puma follow.
There’s a quick round-up of the placings. Peugeot, Porsche, and Tesla are top three. The Clio is not far behind. Most jurors are not giving their maximum permitted 10 points to one contender. Second and third choices are clearly beginning to matter.
Portugal puts the 208 first, with 13 points.
Russia favours electric: Tesla 15, Porsche 11.
Slovenia rewards the Puma with 10 points.
Spain gives the 208 a whopping 43 points. It’s now way ahead on 237 points, but the UK block is big enough to swing a win in Tesla or Porsche’s favour.
Switzerland gives 11 points each to the 208 and Taycan.
Turkey’s juror gives the Tesla 8 points.
The UK declares: Taycan 38, Tesla 35.
The Peugeot 208 wins with a decisive 281 points.
Long serving Peugeot chief Jean-Philippe Imparato is in the UK, but clearly awaiting the call. His acceptance is gracious and genial. He must be used to this by now, having accepted the trophies for the 308 and 3008 previously. At least – unlike sorry JLR last year – PSA have a sound excuse in Covid-19 for not having their chief on hand in Geneva.
So certainly not business as usual at the ceremony, but ECotY has returned to some sort of normality, with the prize going to a mass market car from a middle-ground brand. The electric option must have helped, PSA’s approach of integrating EV powertrains into their mainstream range differs from what other carmakers are doing.
We might regret that there has been no high drama at the count, as happened in 2019, but ECotY has given the industry’s decision makers something to think about in the slack fortnight they unexpectedly face.
Peugeot 208 – 281 points
Tesla Model 3 – 242 points
Porsche Taycan – 222 points
Renault Clio – 211
Ford Puma – 209
Toyota Corolla – 152
BMW 1-Series – 133