In a ceremony Monday that opened the 82nd Geneva auto show, the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera, the European version of the Volt, were jointly named the European Car of the Year.
The plug-in hybrids beat out a field that included the Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Up, Citroën DS5, Ford Focus, Land Rover Evoque and Fiat Panda. The award was voted on by members of Europe’s motoring press.
The honor comes following a decision by General Motors to halt production of the Volt and Ampera at the automaker’s plant in Hamtramck, Mich., for five weeks, in an effort to trim inventories of the slow-selling extended-range vehicles. As a safety investigation was conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, shipments of the Ampera were halted, and the Ampera only recently began arriving in European showrooms.
In conjunction with the ceremony, it was announced that the naming of the European Car of the Year would henceforth officially open the show, a day before traditional press previews. The award had previously been bestowed on the first day of previews.
On Tuesday and Wednesday at the Palexpo convention center, organizers expect a total of 180 world and European premieres in a series of 70 press conferences that conclude Wednesday afternoon. Not every unveiling, however, brings a major new model, as organizers are counting even relatively minor variations between models as separate premieres. The total also includes at least 40 introductions from parts and accessories manufacturers.
The show is open to the public March 8-18. Roughly 30 of the world’s major automakers are represented here, along with a number of boutique coachbuilders, design houses and accessory firms. There will be about 260 exhibitors in total. Every year, more than 700,000 visitors explore the one million square feet of exhibition space devoted to the show.