The revolutionary Ampera and Volt electric vehicles from General Motors have been given more global recognition by the automotive media. Their range extending 1.4-litre engine has won the “International Engine of the Year Award” with the best green engine.
Beating off tough competition in a field of 45 other “green” contenders, the Ampera and Volt came out on top as they are the first electric vehicles in the market that can go anywhere anytime. It is also the first time in the 14 year history of the awards that a range extending powertrain has emerged as a winner.
Seventy-six leading motoring journalists from 35 countries around the world sit on the panel of judges and award prizes in 12 different categories for excellence in powertrain engineering. They agree that this year was one of the toughest to judge so far with 39 all-new engines taking part in the contest.
The latest accolade comes against a backdrop of rising global fuel prices, where small, green and electric power-trains are playing an increasingly prominent role in the international automotive trade.
A 16 kWh lithium ion battery powers the 150 hp electric motor of the Ampera/Volt. Depending on the style of driving and road conditions, distance of between 40 and 80 kilometres can be covered in the purely battery-operated mode, completely free of emissions.
The wheels of the car are always powered electrically. In extended-range mode, which activates whenever the battery has reached its minimum state of charge, power is seamlessly inverted to the electric drive unit from a generator driven by the 1.4-litre, 86 hp gasoline engine.
Extended-range mode enables a total driving range of more than 500 kilometres without re-fuelling.
The Ampera and Volt together have won numerous international awards including the “World Green Car of the Year 2011” and have just been named the European “Car of the Year 2012”.
There have also been accolades for safety like the maximum 5-star Euro NCAP award. Last year, the propulsion system of the Volt was named one of the ten best engines for North America by Ward’s automotive magazine.