In a recent online buyers’ guide by U.S. News and World Report, the Chevrolet Volt tied with two other luxury sport sedans for second place out of 21 “Upscale Midsize Cars.”

Considering the Volt is a compact with a Chevrolet badge, for it to stand elbow-to-elbow with the 2011 Infiniti G and 2011 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is no small achievement.

This is probably another good validation for GM to point to, not least in China, where yesterday the company announced the Volt will sell for nearly double what it sells for in the U.S.



 

Since the U.S. News award is a second place, we're mulling whether to add it to our comprehensive list of first-place Volt awards published yesterday, but we may, given this is an unparalleled achievement that dovetails with previous stories surrounding the Volt.

All year long we’ve heard reports from GM saying the average family income of Volt buyers is Cadillac-high or higher.

We’ve heard stories of people who traded in Japanese and European luxury cars for their new Chevy Volt.

We’ve heard stories of the Volt drawing new shoppers to Chevy dealerships – some for the first time in many years, and some who had never visited the Bowtie brand.

But the readers of GM-Volt have been savvy to these trends, and how the Volt is making waves around the world.

Not only is it the only Chevy on a prestigious list by U.S. News, the Volt ranks ahead of such benchmarks as the Audi A4, Buick Regal, Lexus ES, Cadillac CTS, Audi A5 and a significant number of other very good conventional cars.

The publication said the 2012 Volt's rank behind the 2011 BMW 3-Series was based on an analysis of 28 published reviews, test drives, reliability and safety data.

“The 2012 Chevrolet Volt is one of the automotive press’ favorite hybrid cars,” wrote U.S. News. “Since the Volt has a gas engine that kicks in after the battery dies, they like that there’s no range anxiety that accompanies all-electric cars. Although the Volt is mostly categorized as a hybrid car, some people, including Chevrolet, call it an extended-range electric vehicle.”

After briefly mentioning how the extended-range function works, U.S. News added the Volt is also a uniquely great drivers' car.

“Test drivers also like that the 2012 Chevrolet Volt is easy and affordable to charge and has a high-quality, modern interior. Its sporty handling also makes it fun to drive,” U.S. News wrote. “The Volt isn’t without its faults though. It’s expensive compared with other hybrid cars and even most upscale midsize cars. It also has a small trunk, confusing interior tech and only seats four people.”

No review would be complete without an assessment of anything deemed not up to par. But since the Volt is a compact-class car in a midsize car review, perhaps some consumers will excuse reviewers’ observations that it only seats four, or has a “small trunk.” As for the pricing objection, until other automakers come to market with extended-range vehicles of their own, the Volt is a bit pricey, but it is in a class by itself and was built as a risky pioneering effort by GM.

China

As anyone who knows a bit about buyer behavior could tell you, intangible qualities attributed to a vehicle being considered weigh equally as much, if not more, compared to all the no-nonsense “objective” observations.

In the aspiring world superpower that is China, among its growing middle and affluent classes, prestige, uniqueness and other intangible attributes play heavily in buyer decisions.

The Volt may not be a coveted Buick or Cadillac, but GM plans to import the made-in-Detroit-Hamtramck cars to a country better known for exporting products to U.S. shores – and GM will charge a heavy premium.



 

The 13 Chevrolet dealerships in eight Chinese cities will price the 2012 Volt at $75,533 (RMB 498,000).

And it’s being so-priced without the buffer of as much as $19,000-plus in incentives that other Chinese electric vehicle makers will enjoy.

As it is for Chevrolet in America, the Volt will now be the halo shining over Shanghai-based GM, which expects to see sales increase about 7-10 percent from 3-5 percent this year.

“In an interview Sunday,” wrote the Wall Street Journal, “Kevin Wale, head of GM's China operations, said an acceleration in auto sales growth would be due to an improvement in overall economic conditions, an expected 'normalization' of inflation and a possible gradual easing of monetary policy.”

While observers are still pointing to slower than expected Volt sales in some quarters, the car is otherwise rising on a groundswell of support around the world, especially in the U.S., Europe, and now China.

As evidenced by our award and accolade list yesterday, the momentum begun by amazing support from professional car reviewers, engineers, environmentalists, safety experts, financial analysts – and you, the readers of GM-Volt.com – is huge.

It would appear that as GM has said all along, the Volt is still only getting up to speed.

U.S. News , MLive

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