Automotive Industry Digest

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Toyota Prius wins Japan Car of the Year award

Toyota’s all-new Prius captured the coveted Japan Car of the Year award today at the organization’s vote counting and prize-giving ceremony in Tokyo. Entering the awards ceremony as the favorite to win, the Prius polled a massive 360 votes after the Japan COTY committee introduced a new voting system giving jurors 16 votes to spread between their best three cars. The BMW X1 finished in second place with 150 votes to take out the Import Car of the Year trophy with the Honda ZR-V crossover coming in third with 100 votes.

According to Prius chief engineer Satoki Oya, the car’s reinvention was a case of extremes when former CEO Akio Toyoda recommended that the Prius, a game-changing petrol-hybrid first introduced in 1997, had run its course and should be retired and relegated to taxi status. But product planners and engineers, believing the Prius’s fate could be turned around, totally redesigned the exterior and rethought the powertrain, making the hybrid pioneer the most stylish it’s ever been with significantly increased performance and better fuel economy. The car has also received praise from media in the U.S. and Europe.

Now in its 44th year, the Japan Car of the Year awards is organized and run by representatives from 39 of the country’s most influential automotive and lifestyle publications who select the 60 jurors each year. In the first round of voting in early November, jurors selected the “10 Best” cars for 2023 which included the Toyota Prius, Toyota Alphard, Nissan Serena, Honda ZR-V, Subaru Crosstrek, Mitsubishi Delica Mini, Abarth 500e, BMW X1, Maserati Grecale and Volkswagen ID.4. For the final round of voting, jurors gathered at the Sodegaura Forest Raceway near Tokyo to test drive the 10 Best cars before voting for the winners.

In the special awards categories, the 660cc Mitsubishi Delica Mini kei-car won the Design Car of the Year trophy while the Nissan Serena took home the Technology Car of the Year award for its new e-Power system employing a 3-cylinder 1.4L hybrid and Pro-Pilot 2.0 driver assist system which allows hands-off driving on highways. The COTY awards Organizing Committee’s Special Award was presented to the newly named Japan Mobility Show which returned after 4 years with a redefined theme and successfully welcomed over 1.2 million visitors.

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