A panel of 59 journalists have selected their finalists for the World Car of the Year, Performance Car, Green Car and Design of the Year.  Of 30 World Car of the Year entrants, the jurors selected the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Toyota Prius and Volkswagen Polo.

Although the journalists span the globe, they are hardly distributed evenly.  Only one panelist is from the African continent, and one represents all of South America.

Only cars produced in a minimum of 500 units are able to be nominated for any of the awards.  To be eligible for the overall World Car award, the contender had to be in production, and sold, on at least two continents during 2009. 

The group chose the Audi R8 V10, Ferrari California and Porsche 911 GT3 for the Performance Car award.  For the Green Car award, three alternative fuel experts created a short-list for the full jury to vote on.  In the end, the panel chose the Honda Insight, Toyota Prius and entire Volkswagen BlueMotion range.  Here they cheated a bit, by choosing the Golf, Passat and Polo BlueMotion vehicles.

Of course, one wonders why the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Lexus HS 250h were not picked.

Similar to the Green Car award, the Design of the Year short-list was first created by several design experts.  The jury than voted in the Chevrolet Camaro, Citroen C3 Picasso and the Kia Soul.

The winners of the seventh annual awards will be announced in April at the New York International Auto Show.  What did the jurors miss?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Gallery: 2010 World Car & Performance Car of the Year Finalists Announced [Video]

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