The 2012 European Car Of The Year may be imported from Detroit, but the car in question isn't a Chrysler. A panel of 59 journalists voted the 2012 Chevrolet Volt, along with its mechanically identical Opel/Vauxhall Ampera siblings, as this year's COTY.
As revealed in January, the panel began with 35 vehicles that recently launched in the European market. From there, the jurors whittled those possibilities down to nine finalists: the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera, Range Rover Evoque, Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Up!, Citroen DS5, Fiat Panda, and the Ford Focus. According to Frank Janssen, automotive editor at Stern Magazine and secretary general of the EUCOTY jury, these models nominated "provide answers to the major automotive challenges at our time at an equally high level."
Ultimately, the jury awarded the Volt/Ampera twins 330 points, earning it a first-place finish. Volkswagen's Up! came in second with 281 point, while the Ford Focus finished third with 256 points. The Evoque earned a fourth-place spot, and was followed by the Panda, DS5, and Yaris, respectively.
"The Ampera and Volt won in a field of strong competitors, particularly on account of the outstanding technical progress they reflect," says Hakan Matson, president of the EUCOTY panel and an auto critic for Dagens Industri. "With its range extender, the Ampera presents a very sound new concept on our way to e-mobility. By solving the problem of range anxiety, it is a remarkable step into the future of electrification."
The award follows in the footsteps of a similar competition held on a different continent. The Chevrolet Volt was awarded the North American Car of the Year award in 2011, shortly after it began trickling into dealerships in select markets. It also marks the second year in a row where the EUCOTY was given to an electrified vehicle: in 2011, the award went to the battery-powered Nissan Leaf.
GM Europe says it's received nearly 7000 orders for the Ampera to date, and hopes to deliver nearly 10,000 units by the end of 2012. Initial deliveries to customers in Europe began in late February, although it's unknown how GM's decision to idle its assembly plant in Hamtramck, Michigan - a decision made due to excessive Volt inventory in North America - will affect the European launch.
Source: European Car of the Year; GM