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Given that the Nissan Leaf was named European Car of the Year at the 81st annual Geneva Motor Show in 2011 and the buzz surrounding electric vehicles shows no signs of abating, it probably wasn’t surprising that in 2012, the Chevy Volt and Opel/Vauxhall Ampera (it’s European market derivative), garnered the annual ECOTY award this time around..
The accolade comes as GM continues to aggressively push the Chevrolet nameplate into Europe, while Opel, the company’s established brand in the region, continues to struggle against volume competitors like Volkswagen and Ford, largely due to higher labor costs and limited access to markets outside heavily saturated Europe.
Although the Ampera is little more than a badge engineered version of the Volt, raising Opel’s profile should at least help the brand in the short term. As to the future of GM’s extended range electric car overall, in the US, sales have so far failed to meet expectations, not helped by negative publicity involving battery fire and leakage investigations last year.
Considering that both the Volt and Ampera are virtually identical and both are also targeted at European buyers, albeit through different dealer networks, it will be interesting to see how GM’s extended range electric car fares on the continent and if sales under one nameplate end up cannibalizing the other.
Last year, we spoke with some key GM executives in Detroit who said that the plan is to move both cars in different directions in terms of styling and features, so it’s clear there’s at least some kind of plan in place for the future of this car and also EV technology under each brand.
There probably weren’t too many surprises on this one. Since it’s introduction, the ‘baby’ Range has been making waves in the luxury SUV field, augmented by awards left right and center.
Although it faced fairly stiff competition from the updated 2012 version of Honda’s popular CR-V and the latest BMW X3, in terms of design and engineering, the Evoque was judged the overall winner in the 19th annual North American Truck of the Year awards, which took place on January 9th at Cobo Hall in Detroit, just prior to the opening of this year’s North American International Auto Show.
This represents the third time that a European branded vehicle has won the title, the last was back 2003 when the Volvo XC 90 took the honors. Interestingly, the only other European SUV to ever win North American Truck of the Year was the first generation Mercedes ML back in 1998, recognized as a game changer in the segment, much as the Evoque is today.
The North American Car and Truck of the Year awards are administered by a group of 50 automotive journalists from both the US and Canada, with the awards financed entirely by member dues (no advertising or commercial support for automakers or auto related businesses is accepted).
At this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, the 32nd annual Car of the Year Japan Awards saw the Nissan Leaf emerge as the overall winner, despite some fairly stiff competition.
Not surprisingly, considering the efforts Japan’s second largest automaker has taken to provide the concept of all-electric vehicle mobility on a truly global scale, Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance was understandably pleased at the outcome.
“We have sold 20,000 LEAF models [worldwide]. This is as much a win for Nissan as it is for our customers,” he said. Besides winning the JCOTY title, the much hyped LEAF has also garnered 2011 World Car of the Year and European Car of the Year awards.
Previous JOCTY winners (which must be vehicles produced by Japanese manufacturers, a separate “Import Car of the Year award is also held at the Tokyo show); include the Honda CR-Z (2010-11) and Toyota Prius (2009-10). For more information on the LEAF and JCOTY click on the video below:
Continuing along with the trend of adding awards to its roster, the Range Rover Evoque has been bestowed with another. Top Gear magazine in the UK, has named the baby Rover as it’s “Car of the Year.”
Following the announcement, the Evoque was taken on a “reward trip” across the wilds of North Africa, namely the desert and mountains of Morocco – talk about celebrating in style.
In addition to garnering top honors from the magazine, Top Gear‘s resident ”motor mouth” Jeremy Clarkson, also labeled the Evoque as his favorite vehicle of the year, beating out such contenders as the Ferrari FF, McLaren MP4-12C and BMW 1 Series M coupe.
German car magazine AutoBild Allrad recently invited readers to participate in a poll, to judge which was their favorite AWD car of the year.
Out of field of some impressive hardware, including the Alfa Romeo Brera Q4; Bentley Continental GT; Lamborghini Gallardo and Nissan GT-R; the readers selected the Cadillac CTS AWD coupe as the overall winner.
Not surprisingly, the folks at Cadillac’s European operations were delighted. “I am very happy to see that the new presence of Cadillac on the European marketplace has been noticed and appreciated,” declared Wolfgang Schubert; Managing Director of Cadillac Europe.
The Cadillac CTS Coupe has been on sale in European markets since the fall of 2010; though around 40 percent of all European buyers so far have chosen AWD models. In some markets, notably Switzerland and Austria, AWD variants account for more than 70 percent of all CTS sales volume.
[Source: General Motors]
Jeep may bill its all-new 2011 Grand Cherokee as an off-roader, but the SUV has just been named the ‘Urban Truck of the Year’ by Decisive Media, which publishes, among other things, a magazine named Decisive Auto.
Lyndon Bell, Editor-in-chief of Decisive Auto, declared that “the Jeep’s over-the-road dynamics easily rival that of its competitors’ less capable crossover vehicles. Meanwhile, the Jeep is also perfectly proficient at traversing any terrain. Luxurious interior appointments – along with the fact that drivers aren’t penalized into accepting a lower trim level if they opt for the more fuel-efficient engine – speaks volumes to the way Jeep’s engineers and product planners incorporated 21st century realities into America’s most iconic SUV.” He summed up by saying the [new] Grand Cherokee is “new and improved in every way, while faithfully capturing the spirit of its predecessor.”
Judging of the ‘Urban Car of the Year’ award, was undertaken by Decisive Auto’s on-staff Editors as well as a panel of 15 independent automotive journalists. The award will be officially presented at the 15th Annual Urban Wheels Awards on January 9th 2011, during the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit.
Mike Manley, President of Chrysler’s Jeep division in response to the announcement, went on record, stating Jeep is pleased that this panel of influential journalists has recognized that the new Grand Cherokee delivers the perfect blend of on-road refinement, superb craftsmanship, world-class design, improved fuel economy, innovative features, and legendary real-world capability.” Score one for the proper off-roaders!
In the car category, the new Chevy Cruze was given the 2011 Urban Car of the Year Award.