The revolutionary Ampera and Volt electric vehicles have been given yet more global recognition by the automotive media. Their range-extending 1.4-litre engine has won the International Engine of the Year Award for the best green engine, beating a tough field of almost 50 ‘green’ contenders.
The Ampera and the Volt are the first electric vehicles in the market that can go anywhere, any time. It’s also the first time in the 14-year history of the awards that a range-extending powertrain has emerged as a winner. 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 British organisers, 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 sit on the panel of judges and award prizes in 12 different categories for excellence in powertrain engineering. They agreed that this year was one of the toughest to judge so far, with 39 all-new engines taking part in the contest.
One jury member, 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.”
The latest accolade comes against a backdrop of rising global fuel prices, where small, green and electric powertrains are playing an increasingly prominent role in the international automotive trade.
A 16-kWh lithium ion battery powers the 111kW/150PS electric motor of the Ampera/Volt. Depending on the style of driving and road conditions, a 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 diverted to the electric drive unit from a generator driven by the 1.4-litre, 63 kW/86PS petrol engine. Extended-range mode enables a total driving range of more than 360 miles without recharging or refuelling.
The Ampera and Volt have together won numerous international awards, including World Green Car of the Year 2011 and European Car of the Year 2012. There have also been accolades for safety, such as 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.
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