Chevrolet Volt wins 2011 North American Car of the Year

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt got another marketing jolt Monday, when it received the North American Car of the Year. The car that runs on electricity for 40 miles (65 kilometers) before a backup gas engine kicks in beat out the Nissan Leaf, another electric, and Hyundai Sonata in the annual ceremony on the first day of media previews for the Detroit auto show. Forty-nine auto journalists from the U.S. and Canada made the picks. The vehicles are judged on innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value. It's the latest in a string of accolades for the Volt, which went on sale in limited markets in December and costs $40,280. It was named the Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November and Motor Trend and Automobile Magazine named the Volt the 2011 car of the year the same month. General Motors Co. Vice Chairman Tom Stephens said the Volt "represents the soul" of the new GM, on the rebound after enduring a government-led bankruptcy in 2009. GM sold between 250 and 350 Chevy Volts in December and Nissan's sales totaled less than 10 Leaf sedans in the past two weeks. Production for both is slowly ramping up. It will be well into 2012 before both the Volt and Leaf, which costs $32,780, are available nationwide. Early demand is strong: About 50,000 people already are on waiting lists. The Volts are being assembled in Detroit. GM predicts it will sell 10,000 of them in 2011 and between 35,000 and 45,000 in 2012. By way of comparison, Chevrolet sold 187,250 Malibu sedans in the first 11 months of 2010 with sticker prices that start at $21,975.

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