Chinese cars enter the global stage among the finalists of the 2024 World Car Awards

After displacing Tesla from the top spot as the leading global EV manufacturer, BYD has secured a place on the world stage by finishing as a top three finalist in two World Car Awards categories for the 2024 awards.

Announced at the Geneva International Motor Show, the BYD seal landed among the top three finalists for World Car of the Year, alongside the 2025 Volvo EX30 and the 2024 Kia ​​EV9. This is the second time all three finalists also include electric vehicles.

BYD’s Dolphin also finished in the top three of Word Urban Cars for 2024, as did the Volvo EX30. The third contender is the Lexus LBX.

But BYD isn’t the only Chinese automaker to have its vehicles named as World Car Awards finalists; China-based Geely, owner of Volvo, saw its Chinese-built EX30 named a finalist in three categories: World Electric Car, World Urban Car and World Car of the Year.

A first for Chinese car manufacturers

This is the first time that three Chinese cars have been finalists for global car awards and for the first time that they are in the running for the title of World Car of the Year. BYD models are sold in much of the world, including Europe, Asia and of course China.

The company hopes to eventually sell models in the US and plans to build an assembly plant in Mexico to facilitate sales in Mexico, North and South America.

Cheaper cars from China? Maybe – but maybe not

Late last year I drove two Chinese-built cars: the MG One and the Omoda 05, both gas-powered compact crossovers. They were fine cars: well made, easy to drive and composed of familiar touchscreens, button switches and consoles.

But with a price in the mid to high $20,000 range, not a bargain. If they were on sale in the US, they would offer an alternative to a Nissan Altima or a Hyundai Elantra rather than a clear undercut. Much of this is due to the necessary equipment, safety standards and more that need to be sold in much of the world, including the US.

Looking at the BYD seal at the Geneva Motor Show, the car shows design ambition rather than corner cutting. With prices in Europe reaching around $48,000, the Seal, a compact crossover, is filled with leather seats, large screens and an elegant design. The battery powertrain promises a range of about 350 miles and a charging time of just 37 minutes at a DC fast charger – not far off from other electric vehicles on sale in the US for around the same price.

The Dolphin, while much smaller and with a comfortable but less luxurious interior and a driving range of 210 miles, costs about $38,000 USD – $10,000 more than the Nissan Leaf. Prices may of course depend on taxes, tariffs and incentives in the country where a car is sold. But both BYD models, such as the MG and Omoda, fit into the competitive price structure of the US market.

Well-known global names dominate the 2024 final

BMW, Mercedes, Hyundai and Kia produced 2024 and 2025 vehicles that impressed the jury of the World Car Awards, 100 of the best automotive journalists around the world (and where I serve as a jury member and steering committee member). The top three in each category showcase electric vehicles’ growing prowess as performance and luxury cars, as well as passion-driven, barrier-breaking projects like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N and, when Ford finally started selling in international markets, the Bronco.

In addition to the World Car of the Year and World Urban Car categories, here are the other finalists of the World Car Awards for 2024:

World luxury car

World performance car

World electric vehicle

  • BMW i5
  • Kia EV9
  • VolvoEX30

World Car Design of the Year

The winners will be revealed at the kickoff of the New York Auto Show on March 27 at the Javits Center in Manhattan. And then we’ll see: Will Chinese automakers finally take their place on the global automotive stage?

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