World Car

The phrase world car is an engineering strategy used to describe an automobile designed to suit the needs of global automotive markets with minimal changes in each market it is sold in. The goal of a world car program is to save costs and increase quality by standardizing parts and design for a single vehicle in a certain class, in hopes of using the cost savings to deliver a higher-quality product that appeals to automotive consumers worldwide. Examples include the Ford Mondeo and Focus, modern no-frills cars such as the Fiat Palio, Dacia Logan and VW Fox along with luxury cars such as the BMW 3-Series and Lexus LS.

In the pioneering days of the automotive industry, automobiles were primarily designed for the local market that the manufacturer was based in, such as the Ford Model T, which was engineered to cope with the rural lifestyle and rugged terrain that most automobile buyers in the United States had to contend with in the early days of the automobile. However, the Model T was arguably the first world car, with knock-down kits being assembled in locations such as Canada, England and Argentina.

In particular, Ford Motor Company and its American compatriot, General Motors were focused on expanding globally, with General Motors either acquiring or partnering with local automobile manufacturers, such as Opel of Germany, Vauxhall of England and Holden of Australia, while Ford created overseas subsidiaries that would later develop their own line of bespoke automobiles independently of their American parent, such as Ford of Germany, Ford of Britain and Ford Australia.

In 1933, Ford introduced their first car designed for European tastes that was not sold in the United States, the Ford Model Y, developed by Ford of Britain, and also manufactured by Ford of Germany as the Ford Köln. One response was the Opel 1.2 litre, developed by General Motors in the United States but built and sold in Europe. In Australia, the Coupé utilitywas beginning to catch on in popularity, as “a vehicle to go to church in on a Sunday and which can carry our pigs to market on Mondays.” Despite being a global design initially, world cars have to have specific changes made per national laws/regulations, or cultural differences / market tastes where these are divergent. For example, fuel prices vary greatly in different countries, and this affects the choice of engine fitted.

One vehicle that is an example of this is the Volkswagen Golf (currently sold in the Mk VI version), offered only with a 2.5-litre 5-cylinder petrol in the United States and Canada, but in Europe, it has 1.4, 1.4 TSI turbo, 1.6, 2.0, 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder and 3.2 V6 petrol and 1.9 SDI diesel and 2.0 TDI turbodiesel engines. The differences between market needs are not just reflected by equipment levels (in Europe the Golf offers multiple trim levels, compared to North America where it is only available in two versions, and sold as a premiumhatchback rather than a workaday family car as in Europe.

The World Car Awards (WCOTY)  is an automobile award selected by a jury of 48 international automotive journalists from 22 countries. Cars considered must be sold in at least five countries, on at least two continents prior to 1 January of the year of the award. The contest was inaugurated in 2003, and officially launched in January 2004. This was as a unified award, similar to many of the continent, and nation-specific Car of the Year awards already given. Since 2006, awards for performance, green cars, and car design have also been given. In 2013, an award for luxury design was inaugurated.