By Allen Cone
(UPI) — Peugeot’s 3008 was named 2017 European Car of the Year on Monday, the first SUV to win the award.
The French SUV was named the top car by 58 automotive journalists from 22 European cities.
“We made it, the long way from hell to heaven,” Peugeot Group CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato said at the awards ceremony. “In 2012, we decided never more [to flirt with bankruptcy], we decided to put the money into the product. We are really proud. It’s a great moment for us.”
Peugeot has won the award four times before. It last won in 2015 with the 308 hatchback.
Nearly 1,000 customers have placed orders for the car in Europe, according to a company release.
“The jury recognizes that the market share of SUVs and crossover cars has been steadily increasing,” said Hakan Matson, automobile expert from the Swedish economic magazine Dagens Industri and the president of the Car of the Year judging. “The Peugeot is a worthy winner.”
Last year’s winner was the the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, which will become part of Peugeot SA.
On Monday, Peugeot SA announced plans to buy GM’s Opel and Vauxhall for $2.2 billion. With the acquisition, Peugeot will become the second-largest automaker in Europe behind Volkswagen.