Car of The Year 2011: just another Eurovision

It’s already a known fact that the Nissan Leaf has been voted as European Car of the Year for 2011. It was a very close call, at Alfa Romeo Giulietta’s loss. To be precise, the 100% electric Nissan got 257 points, whereas the beautiful Italian managed only 248.

Just in case anyone cares, 3rd place went to the Opel Meriva (244 points). While mediocrity seems to be Opel’s curse, this 3rd place was probably the only one decided on merits alone during this Eurovision-like melodrama pretentiously called „Car of the Year 2011”.

57 jurors from 24 countries cast their vote in order to pick „next year’s car”. Each had 25 points to distribute as they pleased among the 7 finalists, but not more than 10 points for each of them. For the first time, a Dacia car was among those chosen 7.

Unfortunately for the well-liked low-cost brand, the Duster came in last after the vote. Which does makes sense, come to think of it, since this car is basically a four-wheeled critter cobbled together from leftover Renault parts. It is a surprise, however, judging by the results of the autoevolution poll. Dacia Duster was second with 21% of total votes, bested by the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, but surpassing the Volvo S60. In our users’ view, the Nissan Leaf only deserved the 4th place.

It’s true that autoevolution users didn’t have official vote rights, but aren’t they the ones who are going to buy these cars? How much more relevant could „the council of the 57” vote be than that of automotive fans who not only vote but, even more, buy cars?

Say we put aside my dislike of the Leaf, not forgetting that the users’ weren’t quite taken with it either. Say we put aside the fact that this car doesn’t even really exist yet, since it’s only going to be sold in the near future (2011) in only four EU countries (Ireland, the UK, Portugal and the Netherlands), while the rest are left waiting, eyes peeled, hoping that maybe, just maybe a Nissan Leaf will come along the path.

Say we keep believing that electric cars are „the future” and the EU wants to show their respect for the environment, to be ECO and all that crap. None of this changes how the vote was cast and how stupefying the jurors’ so-called justifications were.

I mean, how stupid can you be to state that your reason for giving zero points to the Dacia Duster is the fact that it’s not imported in your country (in this case Denmark), as long as no Nissan Leaf has ever touched Danish ground and won’t do it too soon either?!?

Peter Aaboe (Denmark) says on his own web page: „Dacia Duster is not on the Danish market, but even if it was, low price is not enough to be taken into consideration”.

The same distinguished gentleman about the Nissan Leaf: „Nissan Leaf introduces the electric car as a “real” car with 4/5 seats and a reasonable range of 80 – 150 km depending on the driver. This initiative deserves recognition and five of my precious points.”

In the end, most of his precious points (9) went to the Opel. Well, you know what they say: “tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are”.

Another interesting statement came from Miklos Gajdan (Hungary):”Since I usually consider SUVs a threat for the environment, I do not award them any points”. He did give 1 point to the Dacia Duster, however.

The feeling that the goodie bags jurors got at the entrance also contained a pinch of recreational herbs was further strengthened by other “explanations” such as the one from Stratis Chatzipanaghiotou (Greece): “I must mention yet again that in Athens the registration of diesel cars is prohibited”. And that while he was giving the Duster 1 point?!

And what of Francis Monsenergue (France): “With the Duster, Dacia keeps their low-cost reputation and becomes a worthy contender for many manufacturers”. He went on to give zero points to the Dacia...

It kind of felt like a end-of-the-school-year party, as everybody hurried to get back home since the winners were already known and these “justifications” were such a big and inconvenient bore and certainly not something people could learn something from. Personally I can only notice how this award, this yearly event that eats up resources and gives false, cheap thrills, has ended up being just a socialization opportunity for the brave, aging members of the struggling written automotive press.

Yes, I mean that automotive press that has trouble selling their magazines, is out of readers, and is now desperately seeking “alternative” sources of income.
That’s probably the reason for the difference between the car buyers’ votes and those of the people who live around cars and, most of all, can smell the money thrown around generously by the automotive industry. It’s just like those old dogs who put together the yearly entertainment event called the Eurovision and spend their lives surrounded by the stupid music promoted by this ancient and terminally ill festival where the voting is just a big farce and ridicule feels right at home.

I wonder when we will finally be able to get rid of these “cultural events” and see some real awards, given to cars or music that really was the best during that year. Personally, I would prefer it if awards were given in 2010 for... 2010, and not in advance for the following year. Wouldn’t that make more sense?

Think about it: if I wanted to test drive a Nissan Leaf, I’d have to wait for at least one more year, until it actually becomes available in Europe. And yet, this vehicle has already been selected as the next year’s car...
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