Amongst the slew of other awards the Chevy Volt received last year, GM may not have felt too snubbed when they lost out to the Nissan Leaf for the 2011 European Car of the Year. But in case they did, they may now rest easy since the GM-produced hybrid and its European counterparts, the Vauxhall and Opel Ampera, have officially been named 2012 European Car of the Year. In a glowing review, the awarding body stated “Volt/Ampera offers a mature product, after years of development and perfectioning by General Motors, and the first example of an electric vehicle with extended range. Others will come along this path.”

The award adds to an exciting year for the Chevy Volt. Drivers of the hybrid car clocked in an incredible 1.3 million all electric miles, while Jay Leno boasted that he drove his Volt 11,000 miles without once stopping at a gas station. Meanwhile Newt Gingrich attempted to smear the eco-friendly vehicle by absurdly proclaiming that you “can’t put a gun rack” on one, and the Republican Party at large tried to lambast President Obama for his support of the Detroit-made car.

The Car of the Year award is determined by a select panel of 59 auto journalists, and among the vehicles shortlisted the Volt/Ampera is the only strictly hybrid vehicle to make the cut. The Toyota Yaris received a nod, but with the jury noting that its “1.5 Hybrid version will come with outstanding emissions, but at a premium price.”

In spite of growing buzz around the Chevy Volt, the Detroit-Hamtramck plant was forced to temporarily halt production last year as orders for the car fell short of GM’s expectations. Some media agencies are now already speculating that the car will again fall short for 2012. CNN stated that “GM had set a goal of about 45,000 Volt sales in the United States alone. That already seems out of reach. GM sold about 600 Volts in January and just over 1,000 in February.” Concerns focus on the fact that, even with available tax credits, the car’s price tag of $39,145 may simply be too high for a significant green-car-buying public to jump on board with the increasingly championed, eco-friendly vehicle.

+ European Car of the Year

+ Chevrolet Volt

Via Fox News

Images © flickr user NRMA New Cars