Fantastic news that the Chevrolet Volt and its European cousins the Opel and Vauxhall Ampera have won European Car of the Year. It's the first time a Yank has ever won such favour from the snooty Europeans, but really it's the 'extended range' technology, rather than the car, that's been recognised.
The Volt is an electric car that demands no change in behaviour from its owners. That gives this type of vehicle a greater chance of success in the long run, even if Volt sales have been sluggish. (It's pricey at $39,000 before a $7,500 tax credit. A Vauxhall Ampera costs £37,250, but the UK Government hands back up to £5,000.)
The Volt/Ampera is a fully electric car – the wheels are always turned using the power of lithium-ion batteries. You can charge it up overnight. BUT the batteries can also be charged by a small petrol (gasolene) engine.
So you don't have to calculate your range and worry about getting stranded and winding down like a battery-operated toy . You fill up as normal, but not often - you should get around 90mpg.
It's pet-friendly, too, apparently. (Actually I just couldn't resist this cute photo.)