It's been quite a year for the 2011 Chevy Volt, GM's range-extended electric car that went on sale last month.

It garnered a slew of awards from various car magazines and other auto media, and now it's capped the year by winning the prestigious North American Car of the Year award.

Voted on by dozens of automotive journalists and presented at the Detroit Auto Show, the nominees for the NACoTY award were:

  • Audi A8
  • Buick Regal
  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Chevrolet Volt
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Hyundai Sonata/2.0T/Hybrid
  • Infiniti M37/56
  • Jaguar XJ
  • Kia Optima
  • Mazda Mazda2
  • Nissan Juke
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Volkswagen Jetta
  • Volvo S60

The fact that the award went to a car with a plug on the side that pioneered the concept of a mass-produced series hybrid indicates just how revolutionary the Volt really is.

The award is likely especially sweet for General Motors, which was not only pilloried in the documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car?

GM also entered bankruptcy, was swiftly restructured and funded by the U.S. government, and endured a welter of public criticism for being "Government Motors."

But its sales were hit less than expected by the opprobrium, and the overflowing waiting lists for the Volt indicate that it has finally hit a home run in the green car stadium--even if it still generates huge profits from pickup trucks and large sport-utility vehicles.

The 2011 Chevy Volt can run up to 40 miles on its 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, which is recharged by plugging it into 120-Volt or 240-Volt wall current.

After that, its 1.4-liter gasoline engine switches on to turn a generator that flows electricity through the battery pack to the 110-kilowatt electric motor that powers the front wheels.