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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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RE: meh
By FITCamaro on 11/17/2010 3:50:57 PM , Rating: 2
I have no respect for Car & Driver. They submit awards and testing victories based on their personal preferences. Not necessarily the best performing or value car.

RE: meh
By tng on 11/17/2010 4:04:26 PM , Rating: 2
They are better than Motor Trend that has an award for every category that you can possibly conceive of. MT tends to give awards for everything so they can get their name in the media more.

As for personal preferences which is how C&D does it, I think that it makes more sense in real life (at least mine) to do it that way rather than specs and popularity with the public.

RE: meh
By Solandri on 11/17/2010 4:19:49 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, after trying out various movie/music rating systems from IMDB to Rotten Tomatoes to Netflix to Pandora, I've concluded that the C&D method is the way to go. Instead of trying to come up with one rating system which magically makes everyone happy all of the time, just let different reviewers pick their own personal preference. The reader/user can then pick which reviewer they agree with most often, and weight those reviews more heavily.

RE: meh
By theapparition on 11/17/2010 4:30:03 PM , Rating: 2
Let's face it, they all cater to specific biases.

C&D aren't any better or worse than MT, etc. Just like some people want to listen to CNN and others want FoxNews. They both report the same crap, but with differnt spins.

RE: meh
By Spuke on 11/17/2010 4:53:18 PM , Rating: 2
I have no respect for Car & Driver. They submit awards and testing victories based on their personal preferences.
I agree. They are heavily biased.

RE: meh
By cmdrdredd on 11/17/2010 9:08:56 PM , Rating: 3
I have no respect for Car & Driver. They submit awards and testing victories based on their personal preferences. Not necessarily the best performing or value car.

Um...yeah that's what they are SUPPOSED TO DO! They drive the car, give you their impressions, tell you how it handles, how it drives, any little quirks and they get a basic score off of their actual testing of it. Wow...who would have thought that driving a car and telling you what they think is wrong.

So I bet you read the articles and say "Wow that car looks awesome on the numbers! best car ever." No the damn thing.

RE: meh
By Targon on 11/18/2010 7:16:44 AM , Rating: 2
The problem here, is that their preference may be influenced by how much money is thrown their way. If a company wanted to give me a car for free, you can bet that I will prefer it to other cars that would cost me money.

RE: meh
By RjBass on 11/18/2010 9:05:16 AM , Rating: 3
I have to agree with that. Some friends of ours gave us a 2000 Ford Windstar Mini Van a couple years ago and that thing is AWESOME!!!

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