Volt: It Should Have Been a Winner

Highly publicized fires extinguish the extended-range EV’s chances of making WardsAuto’s 2012 list.

January 6, 2012

1 Min Read
Judge Schweinsberg laments Chevy Volt missing cut
Judge Schweinsberg laments Chevy Volt missing cut.

The Chevy Volt is not on this year’s Ward’s 10 Best Engines list.

Never have sadder words been written.

Despite nearly all our judges agreeing the car still is a technological marvel, giving us 100 or so gas-free miles (160 km) in a week and spurring score-sheet sentiments such as: “This is Detroit’s lunar landing. It makes me proud,” by WardsAuto World Editor-in-Chief Drew Winter and “absolutely pleasurable to drive,” penned by Tom Murphy, WAW executive editor, we left off the Volt for 2012.

Or rather, seven of my colleagues passed on the Volt. Associate Editor Byron Pope and I were the sole “pro” votes. Thanks, Byron. I always liked you best.

The Volt remains the only electric vehicle without the dreaded “range anxiety,” due to its range-extending internal combustion engine, and the changeover from stored battery power to generator is imperceptible. Still, the publicized Volt fires gave my colleagues pause.

“How can we give an award to the Volt if General Motors has said it may redesign the cooling system?” Editorial Director David E. Zoia asks during the final selection meeting.

But these are the facts: There has been no Volt recall nor Volt owner dying a fiery death.

I’d bet the “Is the Volt dangerous?” storyline playing out now is a claptrap.

A car slowly starting on fire days or weeks after being crash-tested poses no real-world threat to consumers.

The economic downturn has curtailed emergency response times in some cities, but no citizen will be trapped in a crumpled car for several weeks.

As I write this, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reportedly announces the “Volt is safe to drive.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Mr. Secretary.

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