Mar 082012

Car of the Year

The Vauxhall Ampera, an electric vehicle known as the Chevrolet Volt outside of Europe, has won ‘Car of the Year’, the latest in a string of awards it has received since production started in late 2010.

Vauxhall Ampera - AKA Chevrolet Volt

Vauxhall Ampera - AKA Chevrolet Volt

Announced at Geneva Motor Show

The accolade was announced on the opening day of the Geneva Motor Show after the Volt came out the clear favourite from a total of 35 vehicles. In 2011, it won both ‘North American Car of the Year’ and ‘World Green Car of the Year’, capping off an incredible first year for the electric vehicle. Other accolades included the ‘Green Car Vision Award’ by the Washington Auto Show and Green Car Journal, the Motor Trend ‘Car of the Year’ and the ‘Automobile of the Year’ by Automobile Magazine.

This year’s award marked the second year in a row that a plug-in has claimed Europe’s top car award following the success of the Nissan Leaf in 2011, the first time an electric car won.

Driving Range

The Volt has been marketed based on some very same credentials, namely an electric vehicle that goes the distance between charges. Fitted with a 16-kilowatt lithium ion battery, Chevrolet’s flagship plug-in can go up to 49 miles without any emissions before either requiring a recharge or switching to its petrol tank, which can continue for up to a further 310 miles. Last year’s winner, the Leaf, is considered to have a superior electric range from about 62 miles to as much as 138 miles depending on a range of factors, notably load and type of road, according to reviewers and standards authorities.

Safety Rating

If the Volt has inferior range, it certainly does well in a host of other categories. Consumer Reports’ ranked Volt first last year in terms of owner satisfaction, noting that a huge 93 per cent of respondents said they would buy the vehicle again. Meanwhile, Kelly Blue Book gave the Volt the lowest cost rating for 2012 based on the first five years of ownership. Add that to its five-star rating by NCAP, the highest safety valuation in Europe, and you have an electric vehicle that just about has it all.

Chevrolet Volt AKA Vauxhall Ampera

Chevrolet Volt AKA Vauxhall Ampera

European Ampera

Although it seems like the Volt has been around for some time, what with all the awards it has already claimed, the European version, the Ampera, is only just starting to show its potential having first gone on general release here in February. Around the same time, the vehicle reached 10,000 sales worldwide in a period of just 15 months as the rate at which these cars leave the showroom continues to accelerate. This latest award in Geneva therefore marks an exceptional debut for this electric vehicle. The question is: can it keep going?

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