The Chevrolet Volt may not be selling well, but it's one of the most lauded cars in history. Today the plug-in hybrid was named the 2012 European Car of the Year, an award it will share with its European fraternal twin, the Opel Ampera.

The Volt won North American Car of the Year in 2011, while also picking up car of the year accolades from Motor Trend, Automobile, and nabbing Green Car of the Year from Green Car Journal. Britain's What Car? awarded the Vauxhall Ampera – as the Opel model is called in the U.K. – its Green Car of the Year award, as well.

But the Volt has been at the center of one controversy after another, since even before it was launched. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation into a battery fire showed the car was not defective, but it led to the Ampera being delayed. Recent negative publicity among right-leaning political pundits has contributed to making the Volt something of an enigma for General Motors, which just announced it was suspending production of the slow-selling car.

While Europe was never envisioned as the prime market for the Volt/Ampera, GM says it already has 7,000 orders for the Ampera and that the company expects to hit its target of 10,000 sales this year. Certainly, winning this award, presented at the Geneva Motor Show for the first time this year, should help.

The Volt/Ampera finished significantly ahead of the Volkswagen Up! and Ford Focus in the European Car of the Year voting, which included a field of 35 vehicles.

To read the full press release, click past the jump.
Show full PR text
Ampera and Volt voted "Car of the Year 2012"

Geneva. The Opel Ampera and the Chevrolet Volt have today won the "Car of the Year 2012" award. By handing victory to the revolutionary electric vehicles, the panel of judges, made up of 59 leading automotive journalists from 23 European nations, paid tribute to General Motor's innovative foresight. The Opel Ampera / Chevrolet Volt were the undisputed winners with 330 points against VW Up (281) and Ford Focus (256).

For the first time in the history of the prize, the final selection was made in the context of the Geneva international motor show. The Opel/Vauxhall CEO, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, and Chevrolet's President and Managing Director for Europe, Susan Docherty, were both handed the "Car of the Year 2012" award by the President of the COTY judging panel, Hakan Matson.

The Ampera and the Volt emerged as the joint overall winner in a field of seven COTY finalists. Initially, 35 recently launched vehicles entered the contest. The selection criteria applied by the judges were based on attributes such as design, comfort, performance and especially innovative technologies as well as efficiency – areas where the Ampera and the Volt excel.
"It is a proud moment for us and an honor to receive this award from Europe's leading jury of automotive journalists," said Susan Docherty, President and Managing Director, Chevrolet Europe. "Our car demonstrates that electric driving can be fun and reliable without ever compromising the owners' lifestyle."

"We are extremely pleased that our revolutionary electric vehicle has emerged as the winner in such a tough field of competitors. And we are very proud of this accolade," says the Opel/Vauxhall CEO, Karl-Friedrich Stracke. "This encourages us further to continue our leadership role in the area of e-mobility."

The Volt and the Ampera have won many international awards including the "World Green Car of the Year 2011" and the "North American Car of the Year 2011" award. There have also been accolades for safety like the maximum 5-star Euro NCAP award.

The Ampera and the Volt are the first electric vehicles in the market that can go anywhere anytime. A 16 kWh lithium ion battery powers the 111kW/150 hp electric motor. Depending on the style of driving and road conditions, distance of between 40 and 80 kilometers can be covered in the purely battery-operated mode, completely free of emissions. The wheels of the car are always powered electrically. In extended-range mode, which activates whenever the battery has reached its minimum state of charge, the gasoline engine drives a generator that supplies the electric drive unit. The range extender enables an operating radius of 500 kilometers.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 40 Comments
      Making11s
      • 2 Years Ago
      Regardless of price or whether or not you would buy one, the Volt deserves to be recognized like this. It's an amazing piece for technology. Is it perfect? No. It's first-gen technology, but then again, show me any car that's perfect. We laughed at the first Prius. Now they are offering 3 body styles and are on the verge of hitting 1 million annual sales. Innovation pays, but it can take time.
        Julius
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Making11s
        Oh, and the fact that the original US Prius got 40 MPG, and cost twice a Corolla *with* a tax break, too. Amazing how ongoing development can improve things. I'm sure that Volt 2.0 has the potential to do much better than the original.
      AlphaGnome
      • 2 Years Ago
      I personally love the Volt and what GM has achieved, sales phenomenon or not.. That said, the Opel Ampera looks sooo much better than the Volt in my opinion!
      nsxrules
      • 2 Years Ago
      The car is simply too over-priced, price it accordingly, around $25K and it will sell decently. The car is not a failure because conservatives attacked it. Conservatives attacked it because it is a failure (predictably so).
        TopGun
        • 2 Years Ago
        @nsxrules
        It's not designed or built to be a car that sells in Cruze numbers. They sold 7,000 of them in 2011...not too far off a very ambitious goal of 10,000. So was the NSX a failure because they priced it too high and didn't sell to many of them?
        • 2 Years Ago
        @nsxrules
        [blocked]
        moredanyou
        • 2 Years Ago
        @nsxrules
        so you want them to lose oodles of money on every volt/opel? get a brain,.
      Pete K
      • 2 Years Ago
      You really have to drive one in order to understand...it is very unique and would make a great daily driver for most people.
        TopGun
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Pete K
        Agree completely Pete. I drove one two weeks ago, it's an amazing car. I drove the Prius shortly after, and the Volt felt like TWICE the car the Prius is.
      Master Austin
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here in the US, GM has to idle the factory since it's not selling... it was vehicle of the year for Motortrend 2011, and "Loser of the Year" for 2012...
      user164
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Volt is simply too expensive to sell in volume. It is also a victim of politics. I think it might be best if they just shelved it (or seriously reduced their sales expectations) and try amortizing the cost by putting the drive train (in part or whole) into other models (Malibu, Impala, Cruze, whatever). If they reduced the sales expectations (and thus the factory capacity), GM could just use it as an eco "halo" car, I guess. At any rate, I think it is interesting technology that is a bit ahead of the curve (maybe), and still just too expensive for mainstream buyers.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @user164
        [blocked]
          aatbloke1967
          • 2 Years Ago
          "In Europe, in which cars are inherently expensive and gas is ruinously expensive (due to taxes), the Volt / Ampera should sell very well. Which is why they have 7000 orders in hand." It'll have more of an impact in the UK where diesel is taxed at similar rates to petrol and there will be an income tax subsidy. On the continent, where it isn't, and diesel sales account for 75% of all vehicle sales, it will have a more difficult time.
        Julius
        • 2 Years Ago
        @user164
        @ user164: "amortizing the cost by putting the drive train (in part or whole) into other models..." You mean, like the Ampera and the upcoming Cadillac ELR? I think that's the overall plan - just not with version 1.0 technology.
      Burabus
      • 2 Years Ago
      lol
      Jared
      • 2 Years Ago
      Assuming $6 dollars a gallon (not to unreasonable in Europe) a volt would bring gasoline savings of $17,000 dollars in 7 years. Its no wonder 7,000 people in Europe would want one. Everyone says, "yeah but what about the batteries" but they have a warranty that is for 8 years. I think that car makes the most sense in Europe, as gas prices move up everyone else will too but in Europe first.
      sonic_the_dreadnaught
      • 2 Years Ago
      I actually kind of like the appearance. If I had an entire back seat full of kids, and a nagging wife, I'd choose this over a mini-van.
      Drakkon
      • 2 Years Ago
      What is the styling benefit of all the black plastic? I saw one the other day and it looked like one of those liabilty-only accident claims where the kids bolts the primer black fender on the car & never paints it match. I hope Ford has a better time making the hybrid Fusion stick. I think some of it is that conflict between drivers who either want a hybrid and they want everyone on the road to know they have a hybrid (Prius, Volt) or people who want a hybrid, but they want it to look like every other car (Camry, Escape).
        Camaroman101
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Drakkon
        its to make the car look lighter/smaller, i think. its like that on a bunch of cars with the flat plastic black rockers & portions of the rear bumpers. i think it makes cars look cheap too
      Renaurd
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is going to make Consumer Reports freaking mad, they're going to slap the hell out of somebody.
      xtabay1
      • 2 Years Ago
      I really like the Volt, and have driven one, so I'm not some Volt hater here, but I'm confused by the vehicle in the photos...in one photo, it has Barack Obama's signature from 2010 on the C pillar and then in another it has the info screen in the center dash showing a 2006 date?!? And for some reason this car just looks so much worse then a volt, the rear end, the all grey interior...something seems wrong or off about it compared to the Volt
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