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.
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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

2021
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

2020
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

2019
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

2018
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

2017
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

2016
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

2015
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

2014
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

2013
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

2012
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

2011
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

2010
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

2009
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

2008
Mazda2 – World Car of the Year
Audi R8 – World Performance Car
BMW 118d – World Green Car
Audi R8 – World Car Design of the Year

2007
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

2006
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

2005
Audi A6 – World Car of the Year