It's that time of the year again. Last year, BMW managed to snag the top honors for World Green Car of the Year with its little 118d, beating out stiff oil-burning competition from Volkswagen and smart in the process. Might we get an electric winner for 2009? That seems possible now that we've gotten an early look at next year's candidates. For the entire list of potential winners, click past the break. To whet your appetite, we'll mention a few of the more interesting possibilities. How about the Tesla Roadster, the MINI E and the smart ed representing the EV contingent? Honda's hydrogen car, the FCX Clarity, joins Mazda's Hydrogen Rotary RX8 as gaseous entries and GM's full-size SUV duo hold down the hybrid fort. Of course, there are plenty of diesels on the list along with a couple of flex-fuel contestants from Sweden. The nominees will soon be pared down to a short list of five finalists that will be voted on by the jury. The winner will be announced at the 2009 New York Auto Show in April.
Editor's note: AutoblogGreen's Sam Abuelsamid is one of three "green experts" that will pare down the list to five finalists. A jury of 58 journalists will select the winner from the list. See announcement after the jump.

[Source: World Car of the Year via World Car Fans]

Audi Q7 3.0 TDI
BMW 335d BluePerformance
Chevrolet Tahoe / GMC Yukon Hybrid
Citroën C1
Fiat Palio Weekend Electric
Fiat Siena Tetrafuel model
Honda FCX Clarity
Mazda Hydrogen Rotary RX8
Mercedes-Benz ML/R/GL 320 BlueTEC
MINI Cooper D
MINI E
Mitsibishi iMiEV
Nissan X-Trail 20 GT
smart ed
Subaru Legacy/Outback PZEV
Tesla Electric Roadster
Toyota iQ
Volvo C30 1.6D DRIVe
Volvo S40 1.6D DRIVe
Volvo S80 2.5 FT (Flexifuel)
Volvo V50 1.6D DRIVe
Volvo V70 2.5 FT (Flexifuel)


PRESS RELEASE FROM WORLD CAR OF THE YEAR:

Due to the complexity of some of the 'green' technologies, three (3) green experts have been appointed by the World Car Steering Committee to extensively review all documentation and specs associated with each candidate.

The three green experts are in alphabetical order:

Sam Abuelsamid representing North America : Sam is the technical editor of several 'green' web sites including GreenFuelsForecast.com, DieselForecast.com and HydrogenForecast.com. Sam has a degree in mechanical engineering and spent 17 years as an engineer with Delco, Kelsey Hayes and TRW developing and testing control algorithms and software for anti-lock brake, traction control and electronic stability control systems. In 2006, he began writing for AutoblogGreen.com and Autoblog.com; becoming a full-time writer and photographer and editor in 2007.

Tadashi Tateuchi representing Asia: Tadashi worked as an engineer at Tokyo University 's Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science before taking up a position as Kunimitsu Takahashi's chief race engineer for the 1977 Japan F1 Grand Prix. In 1994, he designed and built his own Zero Emission Formula (ZEF) car and placed third in the American electric vehicle race of that year. This result spurred him on to create the Japan Electric Vehicle (EV) Club later that year, an organisation of which he is chairman today. Tateuchi was awarded the Environment Minister's medal in 1998. He has authored over a dozen books on topics ranging from "A trend towards high performance engines," to "The day gasoline-powered cars disappear" to "EV Le Mans 24-hours." He currently contributes regularly to Car Graphic magazine and the Japan Automobile Federation's monthly magazine, and is a juror on the Japan Car of the Year panel.

Dean Slavnich representing Europe . Dean has been editor of Engine Technology International (ETi) and its sister publication, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International (E&H), for the past four years. Both publications are seen as leaders in their respective field. Published four times a year, Engine Technology International is widely regarded as the most readable, passionate and informative publication currently produced on the subject of OE engine and powertrain design, development and manufacture. As from next year, (E&H) - which covers every aspect of sustainable transportation development - will increase its frequen cy to become a bi-annual publication.

The green experts have been asked to create a short-list of five finalists by February 12, 2009. Their recommendations will be passed along to the fifty-eight (58) World Car jurors for their review and final vote February 23 - 27, 2009.

World Car will be in touch with each OEM separately regarding specific information required by the experts.
In the interim, as a general FYI, here is the timeline for adjudicating the World Green Car official candidates:

Dec. 1st: 2009 World Green Car list of candidates officially announced
December - January: Three 'green experts' review the list of candidates and establish a short-list of five finalists
February 12, 2009: Top five (5) finalists submitted to World Car and the international accounting firm of KPMG
February 23 - 27, 2008: Fifty-eight (58) World Car jurors vote on the top five finalists in order to choose a winner.
March 9, 2008: Top Three finalists in all four World Car award categories, including World Green Car, announced by the international accounting firm of KPMG
April 9, 2008: 2009 World Green Car winner announced at the New York International Auto Show on media day.

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