Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Chevy Volt and Opel Ampera named 2012 European Car of the Year

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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.

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