By on March 5, 2012

On the back of last year’s win for the Nissan Leaf, the Chevrolet Volt and Vauxhall/Opel Ampera has won the 2012 European Car of the Year award, beating out the Citroen DS5, Fiat Panda, Ford Focus, Range Rover Evoque, Toyota Yaris and the Volkswagen Up!

The Volt/Ampera beat out the Volkswagen Up!, with the Focus ranking third. Two jurors from England’s CAR magazine explained their voting patterns (you can read them here and here). Juror Georg Kacher, who voted for the Evoque in first place, summarized his drawbacks for Volt/Ampera twins, stating that it was prevented from getting his first place vote because

 it commands a steep asking price, is no performance champ, and consumes too much fuel once the initial battery charge has been used up

I haven’t driven the Up!, but the Evoque and Focus are both fine cars in my opinion and could have easily taken the title. The Volt and Ampera will both be sold in Europe under different dealer channels and branding (Chevrolet being more downmarket and selling rebadged Daewoos relative to Vauxhall/Opel’s slightly more upscale positioning) and seeing the sales breakdown between the two will be a fun exercise once the two are on sale across the continent.

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44 Comments on “Chevrolet Volt, Vauxhall/Opel Ampera Named 2012 European Car Of The Year...”


  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Wow, I hope GM is ready to ramp up production on the Volt. Do they have capacity, at least for the next 5 weeks, to meet demand?

  • avatar
    obruni

    this didn’t deserve to win over the DS5.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    Well this adds some interesting tension to the general conundrum surrounding the Volt (as outlined in Ed’s recent well-written article and many of the equally excellent comments in that thread).

  • avatar
    Lampredi

    The Fiat Panda should have won.

  • avatar
    rentonben

    This award will make some people so angry that they’ll probably stop touching themselves for a few days. This is good, especially because we’re in the season of lent.

  • avatar
    analoca

    Some negative bias when quoting Georg Kacher drawbacks. He also stated: “A coherent concept, a convincing execution, a compelling experience. No more range anxiety! Up to 50 clicks of silent zero emission fun! As well as good looks, a cushy ride, decent handling and a serious image bonus” Furthermore, the remarks from the other British voter, Phil McNamara:

    The Ampera is dynamically impressive, with sweet steering, a composed ride and a decent turn of pace, though its cabin somehow manages to be both dowdy and gimmicky. Bigger picture, the Ampera matches the Nissan Leaf’s zero tailpipe emissions, but its generator engine eliminates the Leaf’s compromised range. GM claims an outlandish 235mpg and 27g/km, which rightly unlock fiscal benefits, though CAP’s residual value is just 37%. Europe’s high fuel prices and our passion for compact cars may make the Ampera more successful here than Stateside. This electric vehicle feels like progress compared with familiar hybrids, and the Leaf, which could only be a family’s second car. On a strong shortlist, the Ampera is my car of the year.

    • 0 avatar
      etrnlrvr

      I’m no Volt fanboi and, except for very recently, have pretty much hated every GM product for the last 15-20 years. But Jesus does this place have such a hard on for Volt smack downs.

      A part of me wishes the Volt would either fail quickly and go away or succeed beyond any ability to be criticized quickly just so I can stop seeing this cherry picked BS here all the time.

      If it wasn’t for Murilee I would be under the ROI it takes to read this blog.

  • avatar
    V572625694

    Thought the Volt was a bit homely, but they really troweled on a heavy coat of ugly for the Ampera, whatever its other virtues.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Just like the Oscars.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Cheer up, emo car.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Note to Opel: the boomerang lights are novel, but they also happen to be hideous. Please desist with this design direction. You’re making Lexus’s spindle grille look attractive.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Once again, symbolism conquers substance in the magical world of the greenies.

    [Insert unicorn with rainbow fart here]

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Opel seems to think they can sell 10K of them in 2012. A lot of those fleet sales Between the Volt an Ampera, sales of 22K-24K for 2012 isn’t unrealistic if the Volt manages to plug along at a 1000 units of better a month for the rest of the year. Not bad.

  • avatar
    Vtecjustkickedinyo

    Is it just me or does the ampera have a much better front end than the volt. Maybe its my lack of taste (I enjoy the unique look of the current mazda 3) or young age, but I would much rather drive a volt based car that looked like the ampera.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    $8-10 a gallon gas could actually make this car more viable, most homes have a 220 volt supply, however not necessarily a garage .

    If they could sell it at same price (35,000 Euros or so), it might do okay.

    The subsidized diesel vehicles are it’s only competition, the Europeans typically don’t buy as many Japanese cars as here.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I’ve seen that prices are supposed to be between 30,000 and 40,000 Euros.

      If gas prices in the US went to $8-10/gallon, I think Volt sales would actually suffer since such an increase would lower the standard of living by raising prices on everything. Volt buyers would be even higher income than they are now.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The Up! should have won. Heaven help me.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    Considering how electricity is generated, they should have called it the “Coal Car” and given it tiny wheels sitting on a rail track.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Maybe that name was taken by the Leaf.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      Depends on where you live: we Ontarians sleep well at night knowing that 70% of our capacity comes from nuclear or hydro. France is even higher than that. If I were to buy a Volt (and it is on my radar), I would recharge at night when the few remaining coal plants in Ontario are shut down.
      The Germans are nutjobs: shutting down their own capacity for a showy splash in the news, then buying up other country’s problems.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Considering how electricity is generated, they should have called it the “Coal Car” and given it tiny wheels sitting on a rail track.”

    Of course your not worried about the 7-8 kilowatts of electricty it takes just to refine every gallon of gas you pump into your ICE coal mobile……LOL

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      So, you mean the Coal Car still uses coal even when it switches on it’s other engine? That’s better than the Weber grill I’m driving!

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Germany reduced its CO2 emissions from electric power generation by 11% over the last few years, in spite of shutting down 7 old nuclear reactors after the Fukushima incident. In 2011, 7.7% of their electricity came from wind and 6% from solar, with new capacity being added all the time. It’s a lot easier to get electricity from solar, wind and hydro than liquid fuel from same.

        The Europeans are comitted to driving down GHG production. I don’t know if they’ve made the targets they’ve agreed to but they’ve certainly put more effort into it than the US has.

        And they still get to use lights and heat their homes. Golly. Who would have thought that was even possible?

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Germany has become a net importer of electricity from France and the Czech Republic since shutting down seven of its nuclear reactors.

        Germany used to export 70 to 150 GWh of power a day; it is now a net importer of 50 GWh daily.

        According to Reuters, this switch away from zero-carbon nuclear power may have thus increased the country’s overall emissions by as much as 10 percent.

        Also note that most of Germany does not have the extremes of temperatures experienced by much of the United States. When my German relatives visited us in Pennsylvania, they would inevitably wail about how hot it was when the temperature hit…85 degrees. Good thing we didn’t live in the South or Southwest. It’s one thing to rely on wind and solar when most of your country experiences moderate temperatures.

        It’s something else entirely when it’s 95 degrees with 95 percent humidity, and everybody has the air conditioner on full blast, or it’s 20 degrees with howling wind for several days at a time.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      “Of course your not worried about the 7-8 kilowatts of electricty it takes just to refine every gallon of gas you pump into your ICE coal mobile……LOL”

      No, I’m not worried about it; it’s paid for at the pump. Just like the electricity it takes to process food or pump water.

      Besides, that gallon of gasoline yields 36 kW of energy, although it is burned at a much lower efficiency than an electric motor consumes power.

      As for me, I prefer the Leaf – it’s an authentic electric car.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    This is like the Oscars, they keep giving it to movies no one sees or cars no one buys.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Just a quick search and films such as “The Kings Speech”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Gladiator”, “Titanic”, “Schindler’s List” and “Forrest Gump” have won in the past 20 years – I think some people saw them!

      As for European Car of the Year, you are right there have been several winners with very few European sales – Leaf (2011), Prius (2005), Yaris (2000)!

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      redav – there were others, like Braveheart, but it would have been boring to list all of them when they are easily googled.
      The point being, some people don`t like this car winning, which is fair enough but they likened it to the Oscars and said “they keep giving it to movies no one sees”. Which is patently false.

  • avatar
    John

    Arrgghhhh! That face on the Ampera! Just how far ARE the auto manufacturers going to push this “aggressive front end” styling? I expect some of the 2014 cars will have blood dripping fangs in their grilles.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    I have asked this before so I guess the B&B do not know the answer but …… How many of the Volt/Amperas in inventory are RHD? The UK will need them, we in Oz are waiting for them. Japan, India etc will want them. They are all made in U.S. plants right? No overseas manufacture?
    http://www.holden.com.au/Volt

  • avatar
    Richarbl

    I think its really sad that GM decided to make an already ugly car even more ugly by changing the only part of the Volt that looked good. The front.
    But what would I know? I am just a dumbarse car nut from the other side of the world. What would I know about the marketing and styling and the advanced technology this car proudly displays?
    Probably nothing, but i do know that this car is not selling and unless someone does something intellegent the Volt will become one of the all time GM disasters

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      In Europe people will have choice, so if they agree with you that the Ampera is very ugly then they can buy the Volt. If they prefer the Ampera looks then they can buy that. Or they can choose to buy neither. What is wrong with that?

      • 0 avatar
        Richarbl

        The problem is, they’re buying neither. That is the problem.

        What we are looking at here is a modern day Edsel

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        They have only recently been released in Europe so I would wait for a few months data before predicting doom. Unless someone has a year’s worth of EU data to share.

      • 0 avatar
        Franz K

        Actually mike978 the Ampera has been available in the EU for quite some time . And its not selling any better : in fact somewhat worse than the VOLT is here in the US . The Ampera , like the rest of OPEL is currently ” Dead Man Walking ” when it comes to sales .

        Nobody wants the VOLT/Ampera . A least no one with half a brain does

        Obama’s Folly and GM’s bad joke ….. at the heavy expense I might add to the American Tax Payer

        FYI As I’ve stated elsewhere , the Feds now want to give a $10K cash rebate ( not a tax credit ) for every VOLT purchaser , as well as GM losing some $10K ( actual per car expense vs profit ) to $120K ( if you also factor in all the development costs )

        All of the above of course financed by yours and my Tax Dollars

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “the Ampera has been available in the EU for quite some time”

        I wouldn’t define one month as being “quite some time.” And if I’m not mistaken, I don’t think that the Vauxhall RHD version is out yet.

        http://media.opel.com/media/intl/en/opel/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/intl/en/2012/opel/02_21_opel_ampera_first_customer

        “And its not selling any better : in fact somewhat worse than the VOLT is here in the US”

        According to the link above, there are about 6,000 orders in Europe, although that could be exaggerated.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    Is the Volt et al a better value proposition in Europe because of gasoline prices and driving conditions?

    Does the EU offer any subsidies to help with the price ?


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