It’s been a tough year for the Chevrolet Volt, General Motors’ once-celebrated plug-in hybrid. But perhaps it’s about to see its fortunes turn as a jury of Continental motoring journalists declare Volt and its Opel Ampera sibling the European Car of the year.
That victory comes 14 months after the Volt took North American Car of the Year honors – but, oh, how much has happened in-between. Just last week, GM announced it will shut down production of Volt and Ampera for five weeks due to excess inventory, a problem exacerbated by reports that several Volt battery packs caught fire after U.S. crash tests.
But while that – and a controversial hearing by a U.S. House subcommittee — might have briefly short-circuited Volt sales, it didn’t seem to unplug enthusiasm among European journalists. The 59 members of the European Car of the Year jury awarded Volt 330 points, nearly 20% more than its nearest competitor, the Volkswagen Up!, with 281 points Ford’s newly-updated Focus came in third, with 256 points.