How the American public reacts to the Chevy Volt remains to be seen, but if magazine editors are any measure the soon-to-arrive electric vehicle (EV) is going to be a smash hit. The Volt has pocketed three best-of-2011 awards: Motor Trend’s 2011 Car of the Year, Automobile’s Auto of the Year and Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year.
The honor from Motor Trend, with its million-plus circulation and history dating back to 1949, is the heavyweight in this trophy haul. In bestowing the award, they devote a long, glowing feature to the Volt in their January 2011 issue, saluting it for scoring extremely high in the six criteria used to judge Car of the Year candidates: engineering excellence, advancement in design, efficiency, safety, value and performance of intended function.
But the editors are particularly smitten with the aspect of the Volt that makes it unique: its powertrain. Its chameleon-like quality to be several different types of car — functioning as “an EV, a series hybrid, or a parallel hybrid, depending on how far you drive and how you drive” — makes the Volt the “world’s first intelligent hybrid,” they write.
One of the most interesting aspects of the feature on the Volt is Motor Trend’s analysis of its fuel economy, given that the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent report on 2011 vehicles didn’t include the Volt. “In EV mode,” Motor Trend writes, “the Volt uses energy at the rate 32.0 killowatt-hours/100 miles or a notional 105 mpg (based on the EPA calculation that a gallon of gas contains 33.7 kWh of energy). The internal-combustion engine sips gas at the rate of about 40 miles per gallon.”
In a 299-mile field test that mixed freeway and city driving, and recharging the car overnight, Motor Trend used 58.6 kWh of electric power and 2.36 gallons of gas. Again using the EPA conversion of 33.7 kWh equalling one gallon of gas, that works out to 72.9 mpg.
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