Electric vehicles dominate the finalists list for the 2021 edition of New Zealand’s most prestigious automotive award, the New Zealand Car Of The Year award (COTY), with no fewer than five of the 10 contenders available as pure electric vehicles, and all but one of the remaining five available in hybrid guise.

While this year’s mix of finalists for the New Zealand Car of the Year, chosen by members of the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild, underscores the rapid addition of electrified options to the country’s new car model lists.

Candidates to scoop this year’s New Zealand Car of the Year crown are, in alphabetical order:

The Audi e-tron GT, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Mercedes-Benz EQA are all pure electric vehicles. There is also a pure electric variant of the Peugeot 208, the e208. The Mazda MX-30 is available as both pure EV and hybrid models.

Variants within the Ford Escape, Kia Sorento and Skoda Octavia ranges are plug-in hybrids that combine internal combustion power with battery-electric power, and each has the ability to cover around 50km on electric power alone on a single battery charge. The latest Toyota Highlander is offered here in non-plugged hybrid guise for the first time, while the Toyota Yaris GR is a highly focused, pure petrol performance machine.

Six of the finalists are able to attract subsidies of up to $8,625 under the government’s Clean Car Discount scheme.

Back in 2015 guild members voted the BMW i3 as their first-ever electric-powered Car of the Year. More recently, pure-electric models – the Jaguar i-Pace and Mercedes EQC – have scooped the New Zealand Car of the Year in both 2019 and 2020.

“Obviously those previous pure-electric title winners are vehicles from recognised luxury brands, and both of the most recent winners carry price tags well in excess of $100,000,” says New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild President, Richard Edwards.

“What is particularly significant in this year’s list of finalists is the presence of electric vehicles across a range of prices. Five of this year’s pure electric and plug in finalists are available at prices below the $80,000 threshold that allows them to qualify for the Government’s Clean Car Discount scheme.

The award’s winner will be decided by the Guild’s two-dozen voting members over the coming months and announced live on TVNZ One’s Seven Sharp programme in February next year. The finalists were revealed on tonight’s episode of the top-rating show.

Taken during Seven Sharp filming

Now entering its 34th year, New Zealand Car of the Year is the country’s most prestigious motoring award, being a truly national prize without commercial ties.

Guild members assess the finalists on a specified range of criteria spanning how the vehicle performs its intended role; its styling, interior design and accommodation; fit, finish and quality; ride and refinement; performance; road-holding and handling; value for money; active and passive safety and environmental responsibility.

Taken during Seven Sharp filming
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How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm also an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.

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