25/07/2024 7:53 PM

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A (not so) brief history of Car Of The Year | Axon’s Automotive Anorak

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Ahead of this though, here is what the COTY has to say about itself and its role, taken from the official COTY website. “COTY is an expert, independent judgement of all new cars on the European market. It is an international award, judged by a panel of senior motoring journalists across Europe. Its object is to acclaim the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the 12 months preceding the date of the title.”

What is today recognised worldwide as the COTYY award came about to avoid confusion among ‘top car’ comparisons run by magazines and newspapers in various countries. In 1963, Fred van der Vlugt, then editor of the Dutch motoring magazine Auto Visie, reasoned that combining resources would produce a more credible result that would attract wider publicity. Van der Vlugt approached 26 professional car testers, from nine different countries, to form an expert Car of the Year jury.

The formula remains the same today, almost 60 years on, but now involves 61 Jury members representing 23 countries. The COTY is a non-profit institution, running totally independent of the motor industry. COTY members receive no payment for serving on the Jury, and the expenses of organising the contest are met by seven publications which promote the award and organise the voting by rotation. Each year the winning COTY manufacturer is entitled to use the title and the distinctive Car of the Year logo for the year of the award.

The COTY objective is to find a single, decisive winner. The voting process is designed for that purpose, and not to provide a scale of merit of all competing cars. There are no categories, sub-divisions or class winners. This objective requires the COTY Jury to assess cars of very different types and price, which means assessing them against their market rivals. The 61 members of the COTY Jury all test cars as part of their journalistic work, and in making their COTY selection, they use the following criteria: design, comfort, safety, economy, handling, performance, functionality, environmental requirements, driver satisfaction and price. Technical innovation and value for money are particularly important factors.

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