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GENEVA — The three finalists for each category in the World Car of the Year program were announced Tuesday at the Geneva International Motor Show.

These final contenders for the World Car of the Year, World Performance Car, World Green Car and World Car Design of the Year awards will vie for their respective honors, which will be unveiled April 1 at the New York International Auto Show.

Looking at the World Car of the Year finalists in particular, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Toyota Prius and Volkswagen Polo were chosen from a list of 10 finalists, which had been whittled down from 30.

Eligible finalists had to be in production and sold during 2009 on a minimum of two continents.

An international jury panel of 59 top-level auto journalists from 25 countries selects and votes on the vehicles. The World Car Steering Committee chooses each juror — who typically drive and evaluate vehicles as part of their regular work experience — based on his expertise, experience, credibility and influence.

Next, finalists for the World Performance Car include the Audi R8 V10, the Ferrari California and the Porsche 911 GT3.

The winner of this category is not only required to excel in a wide variety of attributes, but also show "a specific and overt sports/performance orientation while satisfying the same availability criteria as for the overall World Car of the Year award," officials noted.

"Entrants may be chosen from that list of eligible vehicles, or they may be newly introduced variants that satisfy the same criteria, but are derived from existing rather than brand-new models," they added. "In all cases, they must have a minimum annual production rate of 500 vehicles."

Moving on, the World Green Car finalists are the the Honda Insight, Toyota Prius and the Volkswagen BlueMotion (Golf, Passat, Polo).

Officials noted that because certain green technologies are quite complex, the World Car Steering Committee appointed three green experts to examine all documentation and specs for each contender. Then, these three experts created a short list of finalists for the 59 jurors to review.

These jurors then chose the aforementioned finalists.

Continuing on, the World Car Design of the Year finalists are the Chevrolet Camaro, Citroen C3 Picasso and the Kia Soul. To determine these finalists — which were chosen from World Car candidates list — a design panel of five highly respected international design experts reviewed each candidate and then provided jurors with a short list of recommendations.

Jurors then chose the finalists.