The 2012 Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera, together have been awarded 2012 European Car Of The Year. Why both cars? While it has different body panels, the 2012 Opel Ampera is essentially a European market version of the Chevrolet Volt, however, both cars are sold in Europe.
Grouped as a single car, 59 judges, from 23 European nations, gave the Volt and Ampera top honors, calling the car “a mature product” that is “better suited to consumers’ needs than the conventional electric car.” They predicted we’ll see more plug-in hybrids as “others will come along this path.”
Ironically, however, the award comes after GM’s announcement last Friday, that production of the Volt at its factory in Hamtramck, Michigan will stop for five weeks effective March 16. The closure is prompted by slow sales; GM dealers reportedly have some 3 600 Volts in inventory. This is the third time production has been stopped for a month or more since the Volt went on sale in December, 2010. The move will put 1 600 people out of work for the duration of the shutdown.
As for the Opel Ampera, that hasn’t even launched yet, but looks set to suffer a similar fate with a price that’s probably twice what it would cost without the hybrid drivetrain.
In second place was the 2012 Volkswagen Up!, which trailed the Ampera by 49 votes. In third place, with a total of 256 votes, came the 2012 Ford Focus, while the 2012 Range Rover Evoque came in fourth place with only 186 votes. Interestingly, the 2012 Toyota Yaris came last, with only 122 votes cast in its favour.