Automobile Magazine and Motor Trend Both Announce Chevy Volt as Car of the Year

By · November 16, 2010

2011 Chevy Volt

Automobile Magazine and Motor Trend simultaneously announced today that the 2011 Chevrolet Volt is the Car/Automobile of the Year. This will certainly be only the first of many best-of-the-year awards given to the Volt and other electric cars by mainstream automotive media, which have previously been reluctant to praise electric propulsion. The two organizations, both owned by Source Interlink Media, used social media to make the announcements: Motor Trend via streaming video from G.M.’s wind tunnel, and Automobile Magazine through its Facebook account.

The publications’ editors heaped praise on the Volt in every aspect of consideration: practicality, performance, packaging, affordability, safety, and obviously fuel efficiency. In Motor Trend’s multi-day 299-mile test of the Chevy Volt, the car used 58.6 kWh of electricity and only 2.36 gallons of gas—the equivalent to a conventional vehicle returning 72.9 mpg, according to the magazine.

2011 Chevy Volt

Breakthrough

More importantly, the awards were given to the Volt for pure ingenuity and innovation. “The Volt is unlike any vehicle we have ever driven, ” said Automobile’s Associate Editor Eric Tingwall. Motor Trend said that the “the Volt boasts some of the most advanced engineering ever seen in an American automobile.”

In media releases, both publications hinted at struggles with assessing the Volt’s novel design. Automobile’s Tingwall said that the Volt “endured more scrutiny and skepticism than any of the nine other semifinalists.” Motor Trend also put serious thought into the deeper meaning of the Volt’s innovation. “The more we think about the Volt, the more convinced we are this vehicle represents a real breakthrough,” said Angus Mackenzie Editor-in-Chief of Motor Trend.

While G.M. avoids calling the Volt a hybrid—and downplayed the vehicle’s ability to put power right from the gas engine to the wheels—Motor Trend (widely credited as the organization breaking the story) praised the vehicle as “the world’s first intelligent hybrid,” for its ability to operate as a pure EV, a series hybrid, or as a parallel hybrid to deliver the best possible efficiency.

Automobile Magazine also announced today that electric vehicles are the Technology of the Year. The publication pointed to the arrival of the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF as signs that the “electric vehicle will come of age in 2011.” While these awards represent an acknowledgment from the mainstream automotive press of the potential of plug-in cars—that’s a big deal—we shouldn’t expect them to fully relinquish their devotion to petro-power anytime soon. Automobile Magazine’s technical editor Don Sherman said, “This is not to suggest that Ferrari’s screaming eight-and twelve-cylinder engines are obsolete…nor that hybrid vehicles are passé. But we are convinced that electric propulsion is ready to finally assume a significant role as one of several powertrain options for the future.”

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