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2011 Chevrolet Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery

Readers and editors of SAE International's Automotive Engineering International (AEI) magazine have selected the Chevrolet Volt as the "Best Engineered Vehicle" of 2011. This award highlights the innovative engineering that led to the "production of the world's first electric vehicle with extended-range capability," according to the SAE.

Doug Parks, Volt vehicle line executive, says that the "selection of the Volt as the 2011 Best Engineered Vehicle by our peers is an honor" and commends General Motors' engineering team for creating a "truly transformational vehicle."

SAE International members voted on the "Best Engineered Vehicle" from a list of candidates, including the Nissan Leaf, BMW 5 Series, Kia Optima and Volkswagen Jetta. The vehicles were judged based on these criteria: commonality, flexibility, cost, innovation, package efficiency, powertrain performance, chassis systems, interior accommodations, occupant safety and engineering benchmark.


2011 Chevrolet Volt
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Photos copyright ©2011 Zach Bowman / AOL

[Source: Society of Automotive Engineers]
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Chevrolet Volt Named AEI's Best Engineered Vehicle of 2011

WARRENDALE, Pa., April 13, 2011 - The readers and editors of SAE International's Automotive Engineering International (AEI) magazine have selected the 2011 Chevrolet Volt as the "Best Engineered Vehicle of 2011." The announcement was made during the SAE 2011 World Congress, April 12-14, in Detroit, Mich.

"The selection of the Volt as the 2011 Best Engineered Vehicle by our peers is an honor," said Doug Parks, Vehicle Line Executive for the Chevrolet Volt. "This award validates the hard work and effort of the engineering team to deliver a truly transformational vehicle."

The "2011 Best Engineered Vehicle" award highlights the innovative engineering that resulted in the production of the world's first electric vehicle with extended range capability. With a full charge, Volt drivers will are able to go up to 40 miles completely emissions- and gasoline-free and then continue for several hundred more miles.

Complementing its groundbreaking propulsion system, the Volt offers an equally revolutionary design that emphasizes a wheels-out, body-in stance to make a dynamic and sleek statement. Further, the aerodynamicists in GM's wind tunnel worked with the design and engineering teams to develop the most aerodynamic vehicle in Chevrolet's history. By reducing the energy needed to overcome air resistance, the vehicle's sleek design contributes an estimated eight miles of electric range and up to 40 miles of extended range.

SAE International membership chose from a list of candidates selected by the AEI's editorial team based around the world. The list of candidates included the Nissan Leaf, BMW 5 Series, Kia Optima and Volkswagen Jetta among others. SAE membership selected the Best Engineered Vehicle based on the same criteria typically used in vehicle development programs: commonality, flexibility, cost, innovation, package efficiency, powertrain performance, chassis systems, interior accommodations, occupant safety and engineering benchmark.

This is the eleventh year of the "Best Engineered Vehicle" award.

SAE International is a global association of more than 128,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries. SAE International's core competencies are life-long learning and voluntary consensus standards development. SAE International's charitable arm is the SAE Foundation, which supports many programs, including A World in Motion® and the Collegiate Design Series.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 29 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      It is very complex and it works quite well for a 1st year model. I know some might say a lot of the engineering was easy because the drivetrain is so similar to a Prius. But there's still a lot more that had to be done and they seem to have pulled it off.

      This award seems appropriate to me.
        • 4 Years Ago
        As an engineer who worked on the Volt, it was not easy to engineer by any means and should never be compared to the Prius because the drive system architecture is totally different. The Volt is in a class of its own.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Glad to see the Volt haters on this site have changed their ways. Before the Leaf and Volt came out all I read about in the comments was how the Volt is trash and the leaf will be the best thing since sliced bread. Glad people are finally seeing the Leaf for what it is, an economy EV that was rushed to market to compete with the Volt.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Scorch you are another of many that know not what you speak of. Guess what most of the Volt drivers will be doing??? Give up? That did not take long.

        Most of the Volt drivers will be trying to run as much as possible in EV mode. Some households own both. The ones that do will be forced to drive the Volt over the Leaf, if at all possible they will choose the Leaf every time. The verdict is already out on this and will continue to be reinforced as time goes by. Yes, eventually, even the greedy CEO's of American auto corps will be forced to fallow Nissan's lead. As others above mentioned, the Volts time is limited, we will all look back and laugh at the debacle that is and was the Volt. GM is doing a wonderful job of following Toyota as usual.

        I will give them credit for creating a non conventional drive train or perhaps I should give the credit to the government instead as getting the Volt to market was a stipulation for the bailouts. Credit to the engineers involved as well, they only do what management allows them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What's a Malthusian??
      Is it like a Klingon on Star Trek??
      I have no idea what Stan and Jason are talking about.
      I are just an enkineer.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thx Marco

        It's easy to remember then, since Malthusian and Michigan sound alike.

        I hope Jason's explanation is as simple.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mathusians are citizens of Mathurania. A small, but proudly dishonest people inhabiting a heavily polluted, drab, largely abandoned, former industrialised Rustbelt are of the old USSR. Thanks to Boris (travel agency and turnip vodka processing factory) most of these unfortunate people have migrated to the more pleasant climes of Flint, Michigan!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not really surprised. With the amount of work that had to go into the Volt to make it work properly, it was a good candidate. That's not to say anything less of the amazing work other companies are doing with all electrics or other improved hybrid technologies.

      I wonder if the Fisker Karma was considered stiff competition for it.

      And speaking of competitions, the Ultimate Blogger compeititon is still running through until next Friday night and I'm hoping to get more votes! Please vote for me here - http://www.endrasbmw.com/ultimateblogger/Snoopy

      I also left a question, on Facebook, asking people which charities I should donate to if I win the contest. You can find that here if you want to pick a charity - http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=question&id=10150152485728251&qa_ref=qd
        • 4 Years Ago
        I was thinking that the Karma might not be eligible because it wasn't out yet. Makes sense, I guess. Then again, it would be a good way to bring attention to independent companies.

        Thanks for the response. I hope I was also able to convince you to vote for me! ;)
        BipDBo
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Karma is pretty impressive, too. Since it's not in the hands of consumers yet, though, it may be a contender for this award next year. Because Karma is a startup company without the resouces of GM, I am personally more impressed with the Fisker.
      BipDBo
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is well deserved. The Leaf may be a more logical purchase for many people, but the Volt is a much more impressive feat of engineering.

      What sets the Volt apart is the design objectives. For the Volt, this was a bigger challenge than that of the Prius, and much bigger than the Leaf. The Leaf is very simple, not really much more complex than an aftermarket EV conversion. Aside from improvements in battery tech, the Leaf will probably not improve much over the years. The Volt, however, will probably see great improvements over the next decade. The design concept is sound, but in its current state, it may be a bit more robust than needed, much like the first American FWD system on the 66 Toronado. Through tweeking, it will probably become cheaper, lighter and more efficient, especially in extended range mode. The battery will shrink , and probably be allowed to drain further. The engine has a lot of room for improvementand will probably get smaller in size, weight and power, and get much more efficient. Currently, it is an adaptation of a standard ICE, but eventually, will likely be designed from scratch to be optimized as a generator, like the offering from Lotus. We know that it will soon get flex fuel, but maybe, it will one day be diesel. A Voltech system of similar proportions to the the current, but with some tweeks and slightly more powerful motors may see its way into larger vehicles. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a 3 row.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        Agreed. Another feather in the Volt's cap. Goes along with the 6-7 other awards the car has gathered. Is there more than puffery here? Yes, the general public reacts to awards in positive ways. These Volt awards will help ICE people believe that EV technology is ready for prime time. And even though it is at a prime MSRP - the cost of the Voltech line of drivetrains is headed down.

        Congratulations to the excellent GM-Volt engineering team! Another home run.

      • 4 Years Ago
      This is an award from Engineers to Engineers and that the entire Volt engineering Team will truly covet.

      Many seek to disparage the first fully practical example of the forty year search for a suitable substitute to the ICE powered auto.

      It answers the last question for all time, of whether their is an inherent "Limit to Growth" as posed by the idiotic Malthusians, and the power-seeking Leftists, masquerading as Neo-Druid demagogues.

      After forty years of searching, the western industrialized world has developed the first fully practical and effective substitute for Ground Transport, to the potential problem of lack of fossil hydrocarbons. And the more immediate problem posed by economic blackmail by the the petty Oil Kingdom Sheiks and Commissars. Soon the Middle East can return to the mythical 7th Century if it wishes to do so, and no one will care.

      The Volt can reduce the demand for liquid hydrocarbons to the point where EXISTING supplies of manufactured synthetic hydrocarbons, currently ethanols, can wholly substitute, in perpetuity. In combination with the now fully cleansed Otto ICE, the industrialized world has once again found the way to continued Progress, making Life better and healthier for all Mankind.

      Job... Well Done! .
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ra Conteur,

        Social / societal behavior patterns may not translate from Western to Eastern cultures, so I wouldn't bet that industrialization would necessarily cause population "self-regulation" - especially in Islamic nations, which, in spite of their modernization (Indonesia with one of the world's tallest buildings) have populations with "high" growth rates (Indonesia has 1/4 billion people with a 1.9% rate of growth). Latin American nations also have higher population growths, in spite of their recent industrialization.

        Although China is enforcing a one child policy, and contemplating a one pet policy to curb demand for food, I can't see these methods being applied anywhere else in the world.

        Also, population size is just one of three factors in the equation - longevity (life expectancy) and quality of life (correlates with consumption) are the others. As nations industrialize, they will improve their quality of life (consumption), whether their populations increase or not, causing an enormous demand on resources that are just starting to peak (water, food, energy, etc.). My two biggest worries are that fresh water and food supplies will actually contract, and not merely peak, unless new methods of extraction / production / reclamation are implemented. (We only have 50 years of known fertilizer mineral deposits left.)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Jason,

        the move away from agrarian societies especially in China and India will grow the middle class - and history demonstrates well that middle classes elect to limit family size. i.e. self-regulating like many complex systems. The China growth campaign is also a population mitigation project.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Marcopolo, you got it.

        Range extended EVs are slated for obsolescence and are certainly a stepping stone to something greater.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Stan Peterson,

        What is so idiodic about Malthusian economics? To recognize that the continued growth in the human population (and their activities) will eventually reach natural (or unnatural social) limits is wise, and it is what drives innovators to seek better means to meet the needs of these populations.

        Eventually, the human population will have to determine some equilibrium balancing population size, longevity and quality of life, bounded by the limits of their natural world (energy supplied by sun, moon and earth, resources existing in this solar system, our ability to live peacefully with each other while confined to this solar system, our ability to economically / efficiently / consistently distribute, refine, value add, consume and reclaim these resources). To me, it is one of the most fascinating subjects, and drives so many of the largest movements on Earth - demographic shifts, economic cycles, wars, disease, starvations and so on.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Stan, I agree with most of what you said, except that eventually, advances in energy storage technology, will render the range extended technology obsolete.
      • 4 Years Ago
      And by "Best" we mean that it employed the most engineers and that the voltec drive train will continue to provide many engineering jobs for years to come.

      In other news the RREA(Radiation Remediation Engineers Association) named Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant as the best nuclear power plant of the year.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Who took the jam outta your doughnut?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm with Paul on this one. And it is not a question of Leaf vs Volt. The Volt just strikes me sort of as a cow that is laying eggs and growing wool as well. It is a very complex technical solution to a demand. I hope it is reliable and performs well over a long time. It just makes me personally uncomfortable to have to rely on such complex technology in my daily life. The Volt to me is kind of like the ultimate reminder of Murphy's law. Thats just my personal opinion since I like to drive my cars for 10 years before I have to be bothered to buy another one. Engineers can and will come up with a complex engineering solution to everything, but magic happens when they come up with strikingly elegant and simple solutions to complex problems.
        harlanx6
        • 4 Years Ago
        You get up on the wrong side of the bed today, Paul? I am laughing because that response is so "you". I still like to read your stuff. You must be a hell of an engineer, because I don't see anyone measuring up to your standards. That's OK, we need to be critical.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You mad?


        Just because the Volt is a better car than the leaf, doesn't mean the leaf is a piece of crap....

        Well imho it is, but whatever.

        The Volt actually has a decent interior, a first for a electric/hybrid only car. It's OBVIOUSLY more flexible, the drivetrain certainly performs better.

        This car is a engineering achievement, the Leaf is air cooled batteries, rampant cost cutting and a refrigerator interior. I know which one I'd buy, especially having driven both.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @neevers 1

        Hey, hold on! I like the Volt, and I said so a year ago when the majority of comments were negative. But to say it 's the first hybrid or EV with a decent interior, is going a bit far! Haven't you seen Lexus hybrids? (although Volt is really a REPIEV.)

        The Liberty EV Range Rovers interior makes Volt look truly poverty pack!

      • 4 Years Ago
      You may be surprised to hear this, but i totally agree with this award.
      The Leaf is underengineered by electric car standards, not having a battery pack thermal control system! and probably a primitive BMS as well.. and with the initial problems it seems rushed to market.

      I am not a fan of the Volt powertrain but i would be lying to myself if i wasn't impressed by:

      1. General Motors doing something out of the ordinary with their powertrains
      2. It actually working
      3. Actually selling the cars
      Perry Kravec
      • 3 Years Ago
      How much will the Volt cost in Japan? Germany? Korea? While these countries live off money the suck out of the US economy they put huge tariffs on our products. I say .. level the playing field for our companies.. put the same tariffs on their cars .. see how many Toyota Camrys sell for $45,000 in the US... that's how much a Chevy Malibu costs in Japan after tariffs.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Uh oh. I see angry Leafers with torches and pitchforks. LOL.
      • 4 Years Ago
      M,
      you nailed it. and I would love to hear more from insiders that worked on the Volt.

      The Volt transmission is a work of art. It is 100% totally unique. No one else has anything like it. It IS NOT like the Prius transmission. The only thing the 2 have in common is they both have a planetary gear set. What other EV out there mixes 2 electric motors to get the system to work over such a wide range of vehicle speeds. No one.

      The Plug in Prius is totally different. Step on it too hard, gas engine comes on. Go over 62 MPH ...gas engine comes on.

      Volt= step on it and go 100 MPH in EV mode.

      An engineering work of art. and well deserved of all the awards it has been given.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Volt has produced more awards than vehicles? Is there an award for most awards per units produced? It could win that one too!
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