• Oct 7, 2010
It looks like Popular Mechanics had room for two vehicles this year on its annual "Top Products" awards list. Both the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf were named Breakthrough Products for 2010. PM praised the ride quality and technology of the Volt, stating that it's "more than the sum of its cutting-edge parts." In addition, the publication prominently touted the Volt's range-extending abilities, possibly as a jab at the other winner.

The magazine still had some love left for the Leaf, though, calling it, "a pure EV with space for five, a moderate price and enough range for most tasks - plus, an operating cost that's irresistibly low." The Leaf does not do any one thing that hasn't been done before, but Nissan has combined a lot of features together in a mass-market-ready package that has already resulted in 20,000 pre-orders in the U.S. alone.

Contrary to PM's 2008 Breakthrough car (Click to see what it is. Hint: it's a three-wheeled electric vehicle), you will actually be able to buy both of these 2010 cars the same year they've been acclaimed, a nice change of pace in this uncertain world. To see the rest of Popular Mechanics' Top Products of 2010, click here.

[Source: Popular Mechanics]


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  • 41 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      The VOLT is a revolutionary car. Say what you want, but there is nothing being built that has the technology this car has. It's not ALL about mileage, it's technology. It amazing how so many people can sit @ a keyboard, and call this car a failure or whatever. Unless they have crystal balls, or can tell the future.......the damn vehicle has not had a chance to prove itself, or not prove itself, it JUST HAS BEEN RELEASED TO SELL, my god, some people DON'T THINK. I believe with all the technology in place, and some fine tuning here and there, this is going to be a car that will change cars of the future, but again, I can be wrong. My point is, give it a chance, I believe it, and all the people behind it deserves that.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Volt is a breakthrough for the American auto industry.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I cannot believe, if you are able to afford either, how would someone choose a Leaf over the VOLT........no comparison. I believe the leaf to be in the class of a prius, but the VOLT is in a class like no other vehicle being produced at the present time. It is truly a masterpiece of advanced technology. Again, just my opinion, and everyone has and is intitled to one.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't see any breakthrough with the Leaf. The only breakthrough with the Leaf is with the batteries and the credit for that does not really go the Nissan Leaf. GM was where the Leaf is today in 1994 except today the batteries are much better. Somehow, we feel in the US, that we are obligated to give Japan credit to whatever. We should not even give the $7500.00 tax credit to the Leaf. In Japan, they sure would not do that it if the situation were in reverse!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Their a step in the right direction. But until some much better batteries can be made for a reasonable price these cars will still be niche vehicles not ready for the mainstream. I think chevy is doing better with the volt because of the gasoline backup. Whats gonna happen when you need to drive further than across town in your leaf???? They arent going to make electric car perfect overnight, but this is a great start.
        • 4 Years Ago
        the limited practical one drive range is what makes these cars 'second car' cars in many regions, perfect for commuting but useless for visiting out of town destinations or for tasks that require you to drive around all day.

        winter conditions test would be nice to read. but around these parts with that pricing, I'd believe most to go for gas sipping vw's over these.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What distinguishes one hyrbrid technology from another is largely the logic that controls when and how the car is recharged. The Volt is the first hybrid whose logic makes sense to me.

      So far none of the pure electric cars make sense to me, their range is limited and "on the road" recharging is impractical.
      • 4 Years Ago
      More like incremental improvement products. There's nothing ground breaking about either car.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Depends on what you want a car for. I live in southern CT, so say I wanted to drive to my parent's place in Vermont and then plug my car in overnight, I could buy the Leaf. Not that the Leaf would make it, going up mountains and stuff. But if I wanted to drive to and from work and get groceries on the way home while only running on electricity, every day, and still be able to drive anywhere I wanted, non-stop, I would buy the leaf.
      • 4 Years Ago
      lol...you're an idiot
        • 4 Years Ago
        reply fail...f*#^&$@ multitasking

        meant for Butters
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thx for the clarification, since I thought it directed at my post. (p.s. - I would have agreed that I am an idiot, but would have wanted a reason in this thread) ;-)
        • 4 Years Ago
        You already know this, but I think the appropriate reply should have been.

        runnerb says "lol...I'm an idiot"

        Sorry, I couldn't resist it was too easy.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I agree the Volt is more breakthrough since it carries an on board power generator...
        • 4 Years Ago
        It is. It took a lot of work and testing and calibration to get the damn thing to go.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I just wish they went all electric. GM already knew how to create a fantastic electric car in the mid 90's.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Get the batteries from Chevron and introduce an "EV1 Retro" or something :)
        • 4 Years Ago
        I believe the patent expires in 2012. And all the powertrain info on the EV1 is long gone unfortunately.

        Lithium has surpassed NiMH in a big way. So it's kind of a moot point.
        Just sad that GM + Texaco/Chevron essentially set back EVs by a decade in one fell swoop! The power that big oil has is unimaginable.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just an odd aside:

      Within the last 60 days around the corner from where I live in Pacific Palisades, CA. Both of these vehicles were filmed for each respective manufacture (Chevrolet & Nissan) at the same location using the same house and the same garage (http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/16550-Akron-St-Pacific-Palisades-CA-90272/20543545_zpid/). Neither manufacturer realizes it, so it will be interesting when they air the commercial if anyone will notice.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I think a lot of us will be utterly disappointed with the Volt. The design language is already a FAIL, so lets hope the performance and overall tech will be class-leading.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree with the design, I really don't care for it. After looking back at the concept I kind of wish they stuck with the hard lines instead of making it more jelly bean like.

        As for the powertrain, I am actually kind of impressed by it, I know GM fans will flame me for this but when I first heard bout this some GM guy told me about how it was similar to a hybrid but you could switch between modes... how wrong was he! I was mislead for a while not even knowing what the hell the volt really was. The whole range extender makes much more sense.

        My only really complaint is the price, I know over time it will come down.. but who ever thought you would pay in the 40's for a compact Chevrolet.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Middle Way....+1. That is all.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think the car looks okay! It's not offensive! I think the TECH is where people will be disappointed! This car hasn't even hit the store yet and the 2011 Ford Focus Electric more than double the range of this car.

        The Volt gets 25-50 MPC (Miles per charge)
        The Ford Focus Electric is estimated at 100 MPC (Miles per charge)

        AB SOURCES

        VOLT MPC (Minimum 25, possible 50 ish tops)
        http://www.autoblog.com/2010/09/24/report-chevy-volts-range-will-be-25-miles-on-battery-power-or/

        FOCUS MPC (100 range in press release)
        http://www.autoblog.com/2010/09/04/2012-ford-focus-ev-to-use-liquid-cooled-lithium-polymer-battery/

        The Volt will be I think 41K if I remember correctly while the Focus hasn't been disclosed yet however based on the 2012 price announcement of 16,700 for the base model Focus, I'd expect it to be about 22-24K loaded.

        So the Volt is not even on the street and it's arse is completely kicked by the Focus which hasn't even hit the streets yet.

        In addition, the 2012 Ford Focus is the Euro Focus that Focus fans have been hoping for. i.e. the styling and innards.

        Just in case someone thinks I'm a Focus fanboy or a Volt hater. I'm neither. I just call it how I see it. Both cars to me are worthy in their own rights. I'd pick the Focus EV though. It's going to be 55% the price and 200% the range! Do the math, ya know?
        • 4 Years Ago
        By the way, the bad number is the estimated MPG on the range extender. They initially said it would be 50mpg, but it's lookin' more like low 30mpg. 300 miles on 9 gallons of gas is 33.333...mpg.

        • 4 Years Ago
        I said "2011 Focus" i meant "2012 Focus" It's available this coming spring in 2011.. Sorry for the year-typo...

        • 4 Years Ago
        The design is attractive enough -- easily one of the better looking electric/hybrid cars. True, it doesn't look as good as the concept; but that was old news.

        Btw, a car doesn't have a "design language." It has a design. A design language is shared across multiple vehicles.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's the powertrain that matters.
        And so far, the powertrain is looking to be a disappointment; just going off preliminary numbers.

        All the green minded ( and well to do ) folk i know are feeling like kids right before christmas about the Nissan Leaf. They will be the coolest kid on the block. None of these people are interested in the Volt at all.

        I think the idea of carrying around ~200lbs of gas generator rather than 200lbs of lithium polymer is a big turnoff. It's also $10k more. For the same price, you could buy an EV that goes for 150 miles. I think it will not be as popular & the plugin Prius will eat away at it's sales.

        The sad thing is that GM knows damn well how to make an electric car. If they wouldn't have sold the NiMH patent to Texaco/Chevron, i'd be driving a GM EV1 right now. Instead they give us this Volt thing. Call me bitter, but it seems really effed.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I like the design. I think it's got an attractive look and is far better than some of it's competitors. As far as the tech it's far better than the leaf. The leaf may be a good electic but what good is a car that can only go 100 miles? That means it's at best a second car. There will be know road trips in the Leaf. The Volt has all the benefits of an electric without any of the minuses. Sure it's pricey but lets face it, this and it's successors are the future.
        • 4 Years Ago
        RAndroid,
        So which is better,
        the Volt's electric range of 25 - 50 miles (with 300 miles of backup) or
        the Focus/Leaf electric range of 47 - 138 miles (with no miles of backup)?

        No one car will be perfect for everyone.
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