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Chevrolet Volt wears the crown

Sales staff at Fred Beans Chevrolet in Doylestown and Limerick have smiles on their faces and a swagger in their step with the news that the 2011 plug-in Chevrolet Volt has been named car of the year not once, but multiple times in the last few months. The three most notable were announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show, in Motor Trend’s January issue and at the Detroit Auto Show.

2011 Chevrolet Volt: Car of the Year, many times over

The Green Car of the Year award, presented at the LA show in November, was a selection by six environmental and automotive experts and Green Car Journal editors. Motor Trend magazine’s Car of the Year honor acknowledged the hype and the contention that has surrounded Volt’s launch. And most recently, Volt rose well above its co-finalists, the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Sonata, to capture the North American Car of the Year crown in Detroit.

“We’ve covered the Chevy Volt extensively over the past few years,” writes Diane Pham for Inhabitat.com, a weblog devoted to the future of design and innovations for a smarter and more sustainable future. “Aside from its commercial availability, the Volt’s progressive Voltec propulsion system is what pushed it to the forefront of the electric vehicle race. This technology has transformed the way consumers view electric cars, breaking down consumers’ fear that their vehicle will go kaput once the battery has been drained.”

From Angus MacKenzie at Motor Trend: “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.”

A jury of 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada gave the Volt 233 points for the NACOTY award, followed by the Hyundai Sonata with 163 and the Nissan Leaf electric with 94.

“While hybrid vehicles have won four times in the 18 years that the awards have been given this was the first win for a vehicle that can move a meaningful distance on electric power alone,” the NACOTY announcement notes.