TOKYO - The Europeans swept the top awards in the first Automotive News International Concept Car of the Year competition.
The awards were announced at last month's Tokyo Motor Show.
More than 50 concepts were eligible for the awards, given in four separate categories. Award eligibility dated back to the Paris show in September 1998 and embraced concepts at the major auto shows in Detroit, Geneva and Frankfurt, as well as events in Los Angeles, Seoul and Barcelona.
This year's Tokyo show concepts will be eligible for the 2000 awards, which will be presented in Paris next September. Separately, the Automotive News International Best in Show award for the Tokyo event was given to the Suzuki Pu3-commuter, which now sets the benchmark for all of next year's entrants. This cute little two-seater is designed to use any of three power units: gasoline, electric or hybrid.
In the Concept Car of the Year category, General Motors took first and second place with, respectively, the Opel G90 and the Cadillac Evoq. The two concepts give a clear indication that GM is chasing Ford's 'new edge' design with a new look of its own for the 21st century - a much sharper and bold appearance.
Third place in the Concept Car of the Year category went to the Citroen C3, which gives an indication of how the French manufacturer's small cars will look in the next few years. Like the Opel G90, the C3 also took other awards, winning the safety award and placing second for interior.
The G90 also won the environmental award thanks to its ultra-economy three-cylinder gasoline engine.
The Pininfarina Metrocubo, the radically styled but very innovative 'cube' from the Frankfurt show, took first place for Best Interior Concept, second in the environment category and third in the safety category.
For the big guys, in addition to Cadillac's Evoq placing second overall, Renault's radical Vel Satis luxury model, which goes into production as the Avantime, took third place in the interior category, and Nissan's SUT pickup/sport-utility gained a second for safety. The Honda VV hybrid took third place in the environmental category.