Chevy VoltFurther evidence that General Motors (GM) has made significant gains in rebuilding its business emerged Monday: Its long-anticipated Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric hybrid hatchback was named North American Car of the Year at the Detroit auto show.

The Volt was joined by Ford Motor's (F) Explorer midsize sports-utility vehicle, which took the North American Truck of the Year honor. After about a 20-year run largely unchanged, the Explorer was redesigned for the 2011 model year, making it more car-like and fuel-efficient. Both vehicles went on sale in December.

The Volt's selection for the Car of the Year award wasn't much of a surprise. Reviews by the automotive press have largely praised the vehicle's design, and the Volt has taken several other awards already, including Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year.

Unlike Toyota Motor's (TM) Prius gas-electric hybrid, the Volt can run up to about 40 miles on electricity alone, although Toyota plans to unveil a line of Prius models at the auto show that include a plug-in hybrid variant, similar to the Volt.

The Explorer's selection for Truck of the Year gives the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker its third consecutive win in the category. The Ford F-150 pickup truck took the award in 2009, and last year Ford's Transit Connect utility vehicle was named.

The new Explorer has been significantly revised for the 2011 year, dumping the previous model's body-on-frame construction for a more modern design that improves handling and fuel economy. Sales of the new model doubled in December compared to the previous model, Ford said earlier this month.

Follow all the latest breaking news from the North American International Auto Show at DailyFinance's sister site, AOL Autos autoblog.

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Has anyone stopped and figured out how much lead and sulfuric acid will be needed for the bank of batteries to power this fleet of new autos ?? - and what to do with the discarded plastic battery cases when they go bad ib five years ?? Or how about how much coal or nuclear uranium must be burned and pollute the air to create all this extra electicity needed to power these autos - or how is the average person gioing to energize these autos when out on errands - these new cars sound good from the outside, but, when one analyzes the inherent costs associated with them it's another story - just like the Ethenol craze - takes 1 1/2 gals of gas to make 1 gal of ethenol !! Poor trade off - and you wonder why the price of eggs, beef, bacon, etc. has increased ?? The price of corn has gone up 400% since this foolish idea became mandated by the Gov't - your tax dollars at work for the ethenol industry !! One last thing - those wind mills that are suppose to be the savior of our planet kill THOUSANDS of birds every year - guess that trade off is OK with some tree huggers !!!

January 10 2011 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Congrats to Chevrolet and the Volt team. Its a big win for GM and the US automotive industry.

If you want to find out how much money you'd save commuting to work in a Chevy Volt we've built a Facebook application that calculates it for you. Try it out at

January 10 2011 at 9:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply