The Chevrolet Volt, General Motors's flagship plug-in hybrid, beat out Nissan's fully electric Leaf on Jan. 10 to be named car of the year at the Detroit auto show by a panel of automotive journalists.
Ford's updated Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle was tapped as truck of the year.
"The Volt really represents the soul or the essence of the new General Motors," said Tom Stephens, GM's head of global product planning.
The prestigious award is a recognition of the perseverance of GM's engineers who "even during GM's darkest days they kept their focus on delivering this amazing car," Stephens said.
The Volt can operate on electric power for 35 miles and then automatically switches over to a gasoline powered engine which extends its range for another 340 miles on a single tank.
The first Volts were delivered to U.S. customers in December. GM said it is boosting production to 45,000 Volts from the originally scheduled 30,000 vehicles due to strong demand.
Ford's new Explorer is the most fuel efficient full-sized SUV sold in the United States and the automaker has high hopes for strong sales.
"Winning this honor for the third consecutive year confirms our One Ford plan is working to deliver vehicles people truly want and value, with industry-leading quality, fuel efficiency, safety and smart technology," said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011