Published June 15, 2012
By Philippe Crowe
The Ampera and Volt electric vehicles have been given another global recognition by the automotive media.
The range extending 1.4-litre engine-based extended-range electric powertrain has won the “International Engine of the Year Award” for the best green engine in a field of 45 other “green” contenders.
The awards ceremony was held in the German city of Stuttgart.
“Until the Volt and Ampera the short range of battery electric vehicles limited their suitability for everyday use,” said Uwe Winter, vehicle line director and chief engineer, who was handed the prize by the Britishorganisers, the Engine Technology International magazine. “Our revolutionary propulsion system removes this obstacle by uniting the environmental friendliness of electric drive with the long range of a combustion engine. And the Best Green Engine Award is the highest recognition of this achievement.”
Seventy-six leading motoring journalists from 35 countries around the world sit on the panel of judges and award prizes in twelve 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.
One of the jury members, Bill McKinnon, explained why there had been strong support for the Ampera/Volt range extender: “Combining pure electric efficiency with petrol versatility and convenience means that this is a leading solution.”
A 16-kwh lithium ion battery powers the 111kW electric motor of the Ampera/Volt. Depending on the style of driving and road conditions, distance of between 25 and 50 miles 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 petrol engine. Extended-range mode enables a total driving range of more than 360 miles without recharging or refueling.
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.