DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC

Volvo ends long European Car of the Year losing streak

The XC40 was a resounding winner of the 2018 European Car of the Year. The compact SUV earned 325 points compared with 242 points for its closest competitor, the Seat Ibiza.
Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson had a good feeling that the automaker would end its European Car of the Year losing streak two years ago. In 2016, the XC90 finished just 18 points shy of taking home the 2016 European Car of the Year.

Samuelsson told me back then that he didn't expect the XC90 to win because the judges deciding on the prestigious annual award have long shown a preference for picking vehicles price at a level that is attainable for the masses.

Two years ago when we discussed Volvo's chances in the future, the CEO said: "We have a lot of new cars coming so we will definitely come back. And those cars will be lower priced."

He was right.

Volvo's entry SUV, the XC40 that starts at 31,350 euros in Germany, did something that no Volvo has done in the 55 years of the award: It brought the European Car of the Year title to Gothenburg.

The XC40 was a resounding winner. The compact SUV earned 325 points compared with 242 points for its closest competitor, the Seat Ibiza. The BMW 5 series had 242 points. The BMW 5 series rounded out the top three with 226 points.

It is just the fifth time that a premium brand has won the European Car of the Year title since the honor was launched in 1964. The last premium-brand winner was the Audi 100 in 1983.

While it has struggled in Europe, Volvo has had a string of success across the Atlantic. The XC90 SUV won the 2016 North American Truck of the Year and its smaller sibling, the XC60, was named the 2018 North American Utility of the Year.

You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at dbolduc@crain.com.

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