News : Vauxhall Ampera is 2012 Car of The Year

Vauxhall Ampera (or a Chevrolet Volt at least): 11,000 miles on, and no petrol used.
Vauxhall Ampera is Car of The Year 2012.

The Vauxhall Ampera has won the 2012 European Car of the Year award. It beat off a strong challenge from the Volkswagen Up! but the GM car’s green credentials look to have played an important factor with the judging panel. Sadly, the Range Rover Evoque trailed home in fourth place, but it’s still a strong showing from the British carmaker, emerging as its most saleable – and desirable – car since the Land Rover Discovery in 1989.

The Ampera’s win follows on from Nissan’s remarkable electric car debut, the Leaf, which took the prize in 2011. Car of the Year president Hakan Matson presented the trophy to Opel boss Karl Stracke and Chevrolet Europe managing director Susan Docherty. ‘We were up against some incredible competition, so it feels terrific to have Ampera and Volt win this prestigious award,’ said Docherty.

The scores:

  • Vauxhall Ampera: 330
  • Volkswagen Up: 281
  • Ford Focus: 256
  • Range Rover Evoque: 186
  • Fiat Panda: 156
  • Citroen DS5: 144
  • Toyota Yaris: 122


Keith Adams


  1. A bit underwhelming, this. Being coty doesn’t seem to have helped sales of the Leaf very much.

  2. If there were any suspicions in the past that Car of the Year was an irrelevance then 2011 and 2012 confirm it. Electric cars are just posturing and playing to an ecomentalist audience – they serve no practical purpose in the real world as they are extremely expensive for the limited mode of transportation that they offer and have no genuine green credentials because of the resources that go into developing, building and then disposing of them.

    Sorry folks, but the future for mass personal transport for short distances is going to be mopeds if we keep down this crazy route as that is all we will be able to genuinely afford.

  3. How on earth do cars that are not yet on sale or visible enough for the buying public to decide how good they are win awards such as this? These awards are a joke and always have been. As for the Ampera… a car that will produce just as much, if not more, CO2 than a regular car (because everything involved in it’s production involves the same, if not more complex, production processes and the electricity used to power it is produced by power stations belching out CO2 at an exponential rate). I appreciate the need for cleaner cars, but so far Electric hasn’t won me over because whilst those fumes don’t pop right out onto the street in front of me, the cars are probably no cleaner in the whole life cycle … but then I suppose for many it’s a case of “as long as it’s not on my doorstep…”

  4. the Leaf? what is that? a car? sorry Jonathan, not meant for you but for unlike cars like the leaf and prius… yek…

    like the Evoque very much, last week Ive been in one at the Autovisie meet&greet in Holland, what a car(and price…) they have a Evoque and a new, very nice XF diesel in their fleet of testcars.

  5. Good job, General Motors. I now feel a surge of American pride.

    The Voltec EREV system is a great concept, shared with/imitated by Fisker and Jaguar. I hope JLR can get a version of the C-X75’s drivetrain into a rival for the upcoming Cadillac ELR. Then there could be an entire luxury car market sector dominated by a UK and a US company rather than the German trio. 🙂

    The only problem I see is the use of a fairly old school port-injected petrol engine as the generator. A small and efficient diesel engine would be ideal. That sounds like something GM could gain from its new partnership with PSA.

  6. COTY is tradionally the death knell for cars. Did the Fiat Strada win at one point? If not and my memory is going the same way as my hair, then there’s been some real doozies winning the award over the years so it’s no great shakes for JLR.

    However, I have to echo the comments from #1… The FOCUS gained more votes than the Evoque?! I now need to lie down in a dark room…

  7. I decided to try and retain my hair, sanity and memory and provide for you, in order, the COTY winners since 1964…

    No, they haven’t all been utter horrors, but some have been so bland I’d rather put these on my IKEA meatballs than the sauce they normally provide…

    Couple of years added to help you all acclimatise…

    2011 Leaf
    2010 Polo
    Panda 2
    Focus 1
    Mondeo 1
    Golf (4?)
    Astra/ Kadett 2
    Audi 100
    Renault 9
    Escort 3
    Rover 3500
    Simca 1307/08
    Mercdes 450s
    Audi 80
    Fiat 127
    Fiat 128
    Pug 504
    NSU Ro80
    Fiat 124
    Renault 16
    Austin 1800
    Rover 2000

  8. The Ampera probably justifies the title this time round (I think it’s more appealing and practical than the Leaf). The Focus may be a surprise 3rd place but I guess Ford’s enormous manufacturing capacity means it will be a bigger seller than the Evoque.

    My current car is a Focus MK2 and the MK3 might be on my shopping list next time round. I do like the Evoque but don’t have a need for that type or size of vehicle.

  9. So the European car of the year is not even European.

    what a joke.
    From the (American) reviews of this car they all say the same thing.
    Fuel economy is a con and a lot lower than expected.

    Ho hum move along now and get a diesel.

  10. Despite the Ampera’s faults, Range-Extender EV’S are the way to go, and are a better alternative to plug-in hybrids.

  11. I would consider one, though if it could be charged overnight on the mains it would be perfect for the daily commute.

    And the battery blowup thing is a concern.

  12. People are blatantly mis-informed about the benefits of these cars. They are hailed as some kind of saviour from our dependance on fossil fuels yet the power needed to charge them is produced by fossil fuel guzzling power stations. There is, to my mind, absolutely no difference between putting petrol into your tank and loading a shed load of coal into a power station burner. What I would like to know is which car is ultimately more efficient in terms of what fuel is put in (whether that tank or the plug) how far they will travel at the same rate of emissions. It’s the biggest con of the 21st Century IMO, just as they force us all to use light bulbs that use less energy, at the same time they want us all to plug cars with massive batteries into the mains everynight. To top it all off these cars are ridiculously expensive and also heavily subsidised as it is by honest, hard working taxpayers. Until they come up with a REAL solution to our dependance on fossil fuels, I will stay well clear thank you very much.

  13. I agree James, we are still tied to fossil fuels until our next generation nuclear plants are built (and we stop listening to “greens” on this.).

    At the very least, plugins running on battery power abstract the source of the fuel from the pump to the power station.
    And the diesel/petrol-electric hybrids pump up the MPG so fuel is used more sparingly.

    Ideally we’d have hydrogen plants powered by nuclear power producing fuel cells.

  14. Everyone seems aghast that the Focus did so well, beating the Evoque, yet the Evoque and the Freelander are esentially off Road Foci. Not only that, but they are based not on the Platform of the new model but the old, 2004 MK2. In that respect its amazing that a car with such old technology has done so well!

  15. It goes to whoever pays the judges the most to be honest. Electric cars are still limited to what they can do, and would you trust an electric car from GM? They struggle to get the basic electrics to work reliably in petrol cars!

  16. I have just taken delivery of a Mitsubishi iMiev all electric car. It suits my needs – 80% of the time. Long journeys? ok, forget it, but then again I would not take an articulated lorry to a supermarket car park either, so its all a question of the use it has… Yes they are pricey but so is petrol – and road tax on anything but small runabouts. You can use the argument (to a good degree) about the cost of manufacturing these electric cars in the same way as the cost of producing ordinary cars to be fair. They suit a particular purpose, nothing more. If its not your cup of tea, thats fine. If we all bought everything on the same criteria we would all drive the same car, eat the same food etc etc….and we DONT want that do we!!

  17. The price of fuel will only get higher and higher.
    Already 140.9 for a litre of unleaded round these parts.
    And with the continual sabre rattling in the middle east it can only continue to go one way.

  18. Electric cars are currently an overpriced, and borderline usesless item for the every day motorist, currently thanks to awful range, and slow charging time. Until there is a universal fast charging system nationwide in the same principal as petrol stations, the electric car will be a lame duck. Also Richie saying only little shopper cars have cheap tax. He cannot be further from the truth there. The current Ford Focus, with a 1.6TDCi engine costs the dizzy heights of £30 a year to tax. I knw what I would have, and it isn’t some horrid plastic ecobox

  19. Fast charge systems tend to wreck batteries. They still take 20+ minutes.

    What we need are swappable batteries (or indeed Hydrogen fuel cells). Similar to the current Calor gas system, you get a battery, use it up, take it to the swap station, get a filled battery, use it etc.

    This way it wouldn’t be far off the current way of doing things – get petrol, use it up, take it to petrol station, get more petrol, use it…

  20. Just found out I can’t go back and get a new GM credit card.
    They have pulled the plug on that beginning of this year onwards and the last one I used was handy for points in return so you can buy or use as a deposit on another Vauxhall but I cancelled the last card in 2009 moving to Ford!. No plans to buy a new car and not enough points for an Ampera just a night out to a restaurant of choice.

  21. #24
    a very good idea if we are still using battery packs. That way range can be extended by simply not having to worry about recharging but simply to getting to the next station.
    All we need is every Petrol station to stock these and we’re on our way. It could even revive the fortunes of the local out of the way stations as these will be in more strategic positions.
    Shame is though that there are so many things against this happening.
    two being
    1 – upfront investment, those batteries aint cheap
    2 – Technoligy sharing so that the number of battery types is kept to a minimum and ensure that you can swap a battery from a ford, charge it and put it into a Fiat or GM.

    Shame extracting hydrogen from water isn’t energy cheap, then we could run our IC engined cars off hydrogen extracted from the tap water we fill the tank with – lol

  22. Don’t listen to this seriously flawed award. Look at some it’ previous winners and you realise it’s a load of codswallop. Who in there right mind would ever buy a Citreon XM?????

  23. Mafffc – Hydrogen could be a possibility in the not so distant future. Scientists have found a bacetria that can change Hydrogen into water, and hope that within the next few years they can use this to reduce the cost of the fuel cells, using bacteria instead of using the expensive alloy mesh which they currently use. They are also confident that they can find bacteria that will be able to change H20 into it’s core components – but they believe that might be another 20 – 30 years down the line!

  24. Jon R – comment 10

    Never knew the 1800 ‘Land Crab’ won Car Of The Year! Still,I don’t remember a lot of the other winners either.

    Never heard of the Vauxhall Ampera until tonight!

    Quite like the frontal view you show and the name. I’ll keep an eye out for more pics, info.

  25. Who in there right mind would ever buy a Citreon XM?????”

    Ha ha, quite! Who’d ever buy any Citroen?! Mad thing is, gullible people here are buying them in their droves, very depressing!

  26. What’s wrong with Citroens. I’ve been driving them for the last 30 years. The best model to my mind was the BX Diesel Estate. I had a couple of these, the last covered 186,000 miles before I sold it. Never broke down, needed 1 Alternator, 3 exhaust systems and I battery in that time. It was still on it’s original clutch, and yes, I do use the gearbox rather than the brakes to slow the car. That’s 4 sets of front brake pads, the last set had done less than 3,000 miles.

    Plus the fact that it has the Hydropneumatic suspension, which is amazing. I had a Citroen DS 23 many years ago, on the motorway one evening travelling fast there was a thump and the steering wheel started wobble slightly. I slowed down and pulled on to the hard shoulder. The thump was the O/S front tyre bursting, at over 70mph and all I got was steering wobble, the car didn’t even lurch. Try doing that in a conventionally suspended car.

    I could tell more, but you won;t want me maundering on for all that time.

  27. Using a gas or liquid is still the best idea as shifting these in and out of a tank is the quickest form of loading a tank.

    Rockets etc use the same method.
    I am not saying using rocket fuel, just that using any form of liquid or gas is best.

    It is a shame that MDI in France has not really got their idea off the ground with their compressed air cars.

    That way you have the choice of plugging in an air compressor at night and slow charging the tank or going into a forecourt somewhere and using a high pressure line and filling the tank quick.

    The tank in the car can be filled and emptied many times without loss of performance (unlike a battery).

  28. @ WillM, I take your point, but on the Petrol/Electric hybrid issue I can’t agree. The Civic and Prius seem to consistenly demonstrate in the real world that they are in now way more efficient than a full blown Petrol or diesel. The Prius I had was ridiculous and barely achieved more than 40mpg. The main reason is that the electic motor does little but keep the batteries charged whereas the petrol lump seems to do much of the hauling around, and for a small engine and hevay car make for poor consumption.

  29. I’m beginning to think that the Flintstones had it right all along and the only true way to rid us of emissions and fossil fuel hunger is to use our own legs to ferry us around, which is afterall, what they have spent millions of years of evolution perfecting….

  30. @27 daveh..
    Have you ever owned an XM? or driven one for more than a week, if you had you would never make such an ill informed statement

    Who would buy an XM? anyone who wants a large comfortable car with extreamly good ride and handling. Only those that bought the first XMs could possibly be called mad, they very quickly became better than anything german (yes they are far better made they have to be to work) the same size but the ludites ran away from the ‘weird’ car and perceived bills. Don’t expect to find a cheap one now

  31. Stewart – I have driven one ableit a loan from a friend. I made the statement as the previous Citreon, the CX was beautiful yet flawed, the XM can never be called pretty. Reliability is shocking, my friend’s was more in the garage than on the road in the 3 years he owned it – and he did not buy it from new it was 2 years old and he had saved a buckect loads on the cost, but the cost of keeping on the road killed it off and it was sent to the great scrap man in the sky. He went on to own a Peugeot 405, a Citreon Xantia and Xsara’s and had no probs with them. I base my statement on the evidence put to me.

  32. Based on one car, S1 with a single spoke wheel, on probably a G or H plate possibly?? actually some early XMs were on Js. Regardless one car is hardly a decent sample.
    My opinion is based on having actually owned 5 of them and used them as daily drivers. All but the S1 were near faultless each covering over 20K a year.

    The XM may not be pretty, but it is striking, and no worse looking than any of the post Muira Lambos

  33. Oh the problem with hydrogen is not changing it into water.. in fact a petrol engine fed with hydrogen instead of petrol can do that quiet well (ever wonderd why most of the hybrids are petrol not diesel? now you know). No there are 2 problems with hydrogen as a fuel.. one is extracting it from water or infact anything else takes a lot of energy normally more than you can get by using the resulting hydrogen as a fuel. The second one is storeing it as the hydrogen atom is so small it just escapes though the walls of any conatiner you put it in over time.

  34. “People are blatantly mis-informed about the benefits of these cars. They are hailed as some kind of saviour from our dependance on fossil fuels yet the power needed to charge them is produced by fossil fuel guzzling power stations. There is, to my mind, absolutely no difference between putting petrol into your tank and loading a shed load of coal into a power station burner.”

    I suppose the argument is that gradually more and more of our power will come from Wind and Hydro (we already get a fair bit as a nation from Hydroelectric), as our dependence on fossil fuel power stations decreases then electric cars will become greener.

  35. I don’t think the source of the power is the real issue, it’s the practicality,and cost that is the real stumbling block.

    In January I contacted Renault about the Fluence. I asked them for the leasing cost of the battery based on 12,000 miles a year. It was £80/month, or if you like, 8p/mile (for comparison my 407 2.2 Hdi costs about 15p/mile).

    Renault were helpful and truthful and confirmed that to charge it properly I would need a £900 charger to do the overnight charge and I would NOT be able to charge it from a 13A socket at work in the daytime.(My daily commute varies from 10 miles to 100 miles so I would need to top up in the day). They also confirmed that while the “max” range was 110 miles, the “real world” range is 50-60 miles.

    Now, maybe some people could live with that but the real worry was the fact that after 4 years they expected the battery capacity to be 60% of new capacity (read range=36 miles or get a new battery).

    On the face of it the Volt/Ampera overcome the range problem , but at a cost of £33,000 to buy, AND they will suffer the same battery degradation, thus after 4 years they will essentially using a petrol engine to drag a half dead battery about. The effect on residuals will be devastating.

    While the Fluence and Ampera may find customers, it’s very difficult to see how many people could fit them into normal life given the limitations, for this reason, I cannot see that they represent a real move forward. Shame because I would have liked to try one.

  36. You are wasting your time if you expect wind to generate significant amounts of reliable energy. There are plenty of wind turbines around that basically aren’t earning their keep, plus te fact that they are useless when there is no wind (cf wind turbines in mid-Wales last winter that didn’t generate any significant power during the high pressure/no wind we experienced); you still have to build a lot of nuclear power stations to take up the slack when you get nothing from wind. Geothermal or tidal energy is a different matter, the issue with tidal is more round the ecolgical issues it creates. These range extender or plug in hybrids seem to be similar; really both are kludges to kid people into thinking they are being environmentally friendly when in fact they aren’t ( I still haven’t seen any information on the energy required to build, maintain and scrap a hybrid such as the Prius versus a conventional car). Fuel cell or hydrogen (note to Stewart- we are talking about molecular hydrogen not hydrogen atoms!) the real way forward – storing the hydrogen in an organic compound which is then released through oxidation is a possibility assuming it is thermodynamically viable.

  37. “you still have to build a lot of nuclear power stations to take up the slack when you get nothing from wind”

    Indeed, however even Nuclear doesn’t burn fossil Fuels, although there is arguably the legacy that creates.

    It’s funny though we always used to rely wind and Hydro to make flour. Always amuses me to see someone restore a watermill and not bother to connect the wheel up to a generator..

    The main problem with plug in electric cars is, when you run out of juice you can’t just fill them up. They do change the batteries in electric forklifts, but it involves heavy lifting equipment and racks of batteries, otherwise it involves plugging them in for an extended period.
    Electric vehicles are ok for city cars where you never actually travel that many miles in a day.

    Anyone would think plug-in electric vehicles are a new thing though, Milk Floats were electrically powered 50 years ago.

  38. i think this car is about the best electric car about as opposed to hybrids,alright you can plug it in overnight,but the range is far better than anything else isnt it?if the juice goes low the engine kicks in and only drives the generator,miles better than a leaf.

  39. I read a few years ago that a Prius carbon foot print was WORSE than a Jeep Wrangler, taking into account manufacturing, running the car for so many years/miles and then SCRAPPING and RECYCLING!!! That must be due to the batteries, electric motor(s) and paraphernalia attached to this type of cars… As long as fleet managers will buy cars, BANGERNOMICS is the least polluting solution…Think about all the tons of CO2 saved in keeping a 10 (or more) years old car running.
    Priuses, Insights and Amperas/Volts are just smokescreens, in realworld MPG, they’re worse than say any modern Diesel equivalent whilst managing to require more CO2 to built and contain even more very nasty chemicals.
    As for COTY’s worthiness, oh dear… Some remarkable cars got it for being innovative (Leaf last year, then Prius, Scenic, Audi 100, Fiat 128, NSU Ro80,Renault 16)some were good ideas, some not(wankel or electric engines anyone?) but for some others, it is hard to explain how they got the title, except for pure blandness and not moving the game forward enough, if at all, culprits includes Chryslers, Fords, Fiats, Renaults (9, what a bore) it also seems that now and then, it’s given to very elitist products (450S, 928, 3500 and somehow 2000) begs the question as to how the XJ6 didn’t get it? never mind

  40. “That must be due to the batteries, electric motor(s) and paraphernalia attached to this type of cars…”

    Mainly the batteries, motors and wiring are easily recycled.

  41. @8
    No deisel is not a good idea. Simple fact is for each drum of crude onece refiend you get twice the petrol as you do tractor fuel. Given ultimatly by volume diesel contains 15% more energy than petrol and if the petrol is not used it becomes waste product you can see why. If we stopped selling petrol and diesel by volume but sold it by mass (as we do gas) then diesels advantages would be nill

  42. @46
    Have you ever looked at a Rover 2000? the first winner, if you had you would soon relaise why it won the COTY

  43. How to rate COTY cars, look what they were like when say fifteen years old. Some like the Rover 3500 or Citroen CX are still around and others lasted the 15 years well but can you honestly imagine a fifteen year old Ampera? I’m sure in fifteen years there will be more Dacia Dusters than Amperas.

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