When it comes to car manufacturers, no one is more important than the car industry journalists who make up the European Car of the Year jury.
But we are not only important because we bestow the award, but because we have so much experience in this field. Most of my fellow jurors are quite a lot older than I am, and there are only a few of us younger ones, but even we have about 20 years of experience in the world of cars.
Why do I mention age? Because our age means that we have had decades of experience in the car industry. This means that, years ago, we tested cars with large, strong, atmospheric engines, and they were soon followed by reduced-volume motors, which became even stronger thanks to turbochargers. Nonetheless, cars were shrinking, and the car industry tried, and is still trying, to convince us that this is the way forward, that these were the guidelines for a mobile future.
So, somehow, hybrid and full electric cars drove onto the world market through the side door. Years ago, when I attended the European Car of the Year jury meetings, along with my predecessor, Mr. Tomaž Porekar, I experienced the nascent phase of the electric car industry. The jury members awarded the European Car of the Year Award (quite surprisingly) to the Nissan Leaf and Opel Ampera, although some did not like the decision. The jury not only assesses cars, we also support ideas and new technologies. And it seems that, while most of us still do not believe in a full electric or at least a plug-in hybrid future, we have stopped closing our eyes to what many feel is an inevitability.
At this year's jury meeting in Paris, when we tested all the finalists before voting on this year's European Car of the Year, the car that everyone wanted to test was the Passat plug-in hybrid. This was certainly not the reason for Passat winning this year's European Car of the Year Award, but the fact that Volkswagen will soon start marketing it most certainly cannot be ignored. It is ever more important to be green.
European Car of the Year Jury Member