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The 2011 Chevy Volt from GM is the first American-made mass-market electric vehicle.  (Source: GM)
Two top auto magazines agree -- the Volt is a groundbreaking achievement

"Nobody will buy a Volt." "You can't make a profitable electric vehicle."

General Motors has heard it all.  But it has defied its critics and persisted, completing the world's first mass-market plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid.  The vehicle survived an economic downturn, the largest industrial bankruptcy in U.S. history, and perpetually noisy critics, and is on course to go on sale at dealerships on November 30, 2010.

Now the car has received the distinction of being named the car of the year by two top American automotive publications 
Motor Trend and Automobile.

Motor Trends writes:

In the 61-year history of the Car of the Year award, there have been few contenders as hyped -- or as controversial -- as the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt started life an Old GM project, then arrived fully formed as a symbol of New GM, carrying all the emotional and political baggage of that profound and painful transition. As a result, a lot of the sound and fury that has surrounded the Volt's launch has tended to obscure a simple truth: This automobile is a game-changer.

Chris Theodore, a seasoned automotive engineer and one of the panel judges, enthuses about his surprise at how impressive the Volt's final results were.  He states, "I expected a science fair experiment. But this is a moonshot."

Automobile comments:

In its metamorphosis from 2007 concept car to 2011 production car, the Volt has gone through a reckoning. The turbocharged three-cylinder engine and chunky, Camaro-esque styling have been traded for a normally aspirated four-cylinder and a decidedly pedestrian shape. Claims of 0 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, a 120-mph top speed, and a total driving range of 640 miles turned out to be the usual concept-car lore. The true numbers are 9.0 seconds, 102 mph, and 350 miles. But the Volt is far deeper than an eco-numbers car. In fact, it's more than just a car. It's an idea. And during the past three years, that idea -- blend the environmental benefits of electric driving with the convenience of gasoline -- didn't change at all.

We've been following the Volt since its first days as a concept.  Given its evolution it's pretty easy to see why the car won these distinctions.

While there were some minor tweaks to the powertrain from the original concept, GM delivered on virtually all of its primary objectives with the vehicle being able to travel approximately 40 miles on a charge and an additional 310 miles on a fuel-efficient gasoline engine.  The price is also right near the long speculated $40K mark, coming in at $40,280 USD, before tax credits, factory incentives, or other subsidies.

The Volt is definitely a groundbreaking work by the American auto industry, which will hopefully soon be followed by Ford's Focus Electric battery EV.  The Volt will go head to head with the 2011 Nissan LEAF EV plug-in which is gasoline-free, but has a shorter 100-mile range.

The Volt could win all the awards in the world and that wouldn't convince some of its detractors.  But for those on the fence, it's important to recall that similar criticisms were leveled against the Toyota Prius.  But that mid-to-low volume mass-market hybrid established Toyota as the world leader in hybrids, a position that it has since profited on tremendously as the technology matured and became profitable.  Now GM is poised in a similar position and this time, it is ready to be the one to take the lead.

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I would heartily agree with this, except....
By marvdmartian on 11/17/2010 2:06:23 PM , Rating: 5
....for the $40K price tag! Sorry, but that shoots the whole thing in the foot, and has taken that car out of the price range for most of the people it's being marketed for, imho.

Chances are, this will end up being a limited production boondoggle for GM.....again.

By bighairycamel on 11/17/2010 2:12:47 PM , Rating: 5
Seems clear this decision was made based off of emotional responses. Not saying it's a bad car, but cost:benefit isn't great, and the features/performance themselves aren't deserving of the award.

RE: I would heartily agree with this, except....
By quiksilvr on 11/17/2010 3:01:50 PM , Rating: 3
I agree. As much as I hate the design, the Prius is the perfect combination of cost and benefit. Its under $25k, gets 50 mpg and has 4 doors. Win.

RE: I would heartily agree with this, except....
By tng on 11/17/2010 4:05:57 PM , Rating: 2
As much as I hate the design.....
Really, have you seen them? No MPG rating is worth that.

By Targon on 11/18/2010 7:19:27 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with you, but you can't argue that the Prius at least has very good fuel economy numbers. There are those who can look past an ugly design.

RE: I would heartily agree with this, except....
By cmdrdredd on 11/17/2010 9:04:46 PM , Rating: 2
Seems clear this decision was made based off of emotional responses. Not saying it's a bad car, but cost:benefit isn't great, and the features/performance themselves aren't deserving of the award.

Motortrend is biasd toward Government Motors anyway. What you said is true. The car is not changing the face of the industry like the 2011 Mustang V6 is doing with 300+HP and about 30mph highway, or some of the new Hyundai vehicles making real luxury affordable (Genesis anyone). The overall package with the Volt is severely lacking and if it were a cheap I4 engine it wouldn't even get an honorable mention even if it did 40mpg.

By Noya on 11/18/2010 8:26:37 PM , Rating: 2
Agree with you there, Motor Trend is the Fox News / Redneck of the automotive magazine world.

By 91TTZ on 11/22/2010 2:11:23 PM , Rating: 2
How is the V6 Mustang going to change the face of the industry with 300 hp and 30 mpg highway when the V6 Camaro has 304 hp and 29 mpg highway? It seems like an incremental upgrade if anything.

RE: I would heartily agree with this, except....
By TheDoc9 on 11/17/2010 2:21:08 PM , Rating: 2
I'll have to admit it makes me more interested. The prius is too snotty for me, the volt looks normal. Both cars are about the same price. I'm not sold on the home electrical upgrades, but definitely more interested.

RE: I would heartily agree with this, except....
By Spivonious on 11/17/2010 2:45:20 PM , Rating: 5
both cars are the same price

Prius -> starts at $23,000
Volt -> starts at $40,000

And don't give me that tax credit nonsense. You still have to pay the $40k up-front.

If GM found a way to get the Volt down to $25k, they would bury the Prius. At $40k it will stay a novelty item.

By goku on 11/17/2010 7:18:02 PM , Rating: 2
The day they can get the volt down to $25K is the day that every car is an electric car.. or they simply removed so much battery capacity that it's not even worth it to begin with.

By theapparition on 11/17/2010 4:24:16 PM , Rating: 3
You don't need any home electrical system upgrades. Will work off standard 110V line. You can upgrade to 220V for fast charge capability, but it is not required.

And they are nowhere near being close in price.

RE: I would heartily agree with this, except....
By WW102 on 11/18/2010 9:39:58 AM , Rating: 2
Once again, voltage isnt the issue, its Amps. How many amps does the charging system pull. If your home has is has a loaded at 100 Amps, then it would really suck having a car that doesnt allow you to have your heater or AC on while it charges.

By theapparition on 11/18/2010 10:04:12 AM , Rating: 3
Then maybe you should educate yourself before going further or speculating.

While your correct on a technical level, you fail miserably at real world applications.

The volt will charge off a standard 110V outlet. 110V outlets are rated generally for 15A, with a circuit breaker matched to the circuit. If you can run a common hair dryer (which come close to maxing out most 15A circuits), then you can charge the Volt or Leaf.

The quick charging station runs off 220V and with a higher current (typ 30A), so you can basically charge the car in a quarter of the time. But it is not necessary if you don't want it.

Stop spreading FUD that you don't know anything about. Even old homes with 1950's wiring would be able to charge these cars.

By WW102 on 11/19/2010 10:53:35 AM , Rating: 2
Thats great, it won't max out "that" circuit, but what about the total load coming into the home? Have you never seen a house that's lights flicker a little when the AC kicks on or someone flips on a Vacuum?

Most homes in the 60's were built with 100 - 150 amp services. If its a home that runs off all electric appliances (stove and water heater) and your sitting around that 100 Amp service then thats where you will have the problems.

But glad you could discuss this reasonablly and didnt resort to random personal attacks.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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