nissan leaf
2011 Nissan Leaf – Click above for high-res image gallery

At the start of November, the 41 contenders for the 2011 European Car of the Year award were trimmed down to seven finalists. Today, for the first time ever, Europe's most coveted automotive award went to vehicle that that relies upon electrical juice flowing from its lithium-ion battery pack as its sole source of motivation. That battery-powered vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, marks the automaker's first win since the Micra took home the award way back in 1993. Head juror Hakan Matson proclaims that the Leaf is "a breakthrough for electric cars" and that it "is the first electric vehicle that can match conventional cars in many respects." Nissan chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn accepted the honor and responded with:
This award recognises the pioneering zero-emission Nissan Leaf as competitive to conventional cars in terms of safety, performance, spaciousness and handling. It also reflects Nissan's standing as an innovative and exciting brand with a clear vision of the future of transportation, which we call sustainable mobility.
The Leaf faced strong competition from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Citroën C3/DS3, Dacia Duster, Ford C-Max, Opel/Vauxhall Meriva and Volvo S60/V60. Early predictions by some of the motoring press suggested that the pair of models from Citroën or perhaps even the lone Alfa Romeo vehicle would capture the award, but that's not how the jury of 57 automotive journalists ended up seeing it, and the electric Nissan Leaf grabbed the top spot. Last year, the Volkswagen Polo snatched the Car of the Year title away from second-place finisher, the Toyota iQ. In 2009, the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia just beat out the Ford Fiesta for the honor.

The Leaf also recently won the Green Car of the Year title from the UK's TheGreenCarWebsite and was named the 2011 "Best Car to Buy" by Green Car Reports. Hat tip to Matt!


Related Gallery2011 Nissan Leaf: First Drive

Photos copyright ©2010 Damon Lavrinc
/ AOL

[Source: Nissan]


PRESS RELEASE

The 100% ELECTRIC NISSAN LEAF IS 2011 EUROPEAN CAR OF THE YEAR


-- First electric vehicle to win the prestigious award --

YOKOHAMA, Japan (Nov. 29, 2010) - In a historic moment for Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and zero emission vehicles, the 100% electric Nissan LEAF was awarded 2011 European Car of the Year.

The world's first mass-marketed, affordable, zero-emission vehicle for the global market beat 40 contenders to win motoring's most important accolade. This is the first time in the 47-year history of the annual competition that the award has gone to an electric vehicle. Nissan LEAF's rivals included vehicles from brands such as Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Dacia, Ford, Opel/Vauxhall and Volvo. The jury included 57 leading motoring journalists from 23 European countries.

"The jury acknowledged today that the Nissan LEAF is a breakthrough for electric cars. Nissan LEAF is the first EV that can match conventional cars in many respects," said Håkan Matson, President of the Jury, Car of the Year.

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s President and CEO Carlos Ghosn said: "This award recognizes the pioneering zero-emission Nissan LEAF as competitive to conventional cars in terms of safety, performance, spaciousness and handling. It also reflects Nissan's standing as an innovative and exciting brand with a clear vision of the future of transportation, which we call sustainable mobility. With three other electric vehicles in the pipeline from Nissan - and with the imminent market introduction of four additional electric vehicles from our Alliance partner Renault - Nissan LEAF represents a significant first step toward a zero-emission future."

Nissan LEAF is powered by a compact electric motor in the front of the car, which drives the front wheels. The AC motor develops 80 kW of power and 280 Nm of torque, enough for a maximum speed of 145 km/h (90 mph). The electric motor is powered by a Nissan-developed laminated lithium-ion battery with an output of more than 90 kW. The car has a range of 175 km (New European Driving Cycle) between charges making it a practical proposition for many urban drivers.

The vehicle is fully equipped with features such as regenerating braking, air conditioning, satellite navigation, parking camera and advanced on-board IT and telematics systems. Innovative connectivity will allow an owner to set charging functions to monitor the car's current state of charge and the remaining battery capacity, as well as to heat or cool the interior of the car remotely via mobile phone or computer. The Nissan LEAF will be available in five colors in Europe - blue metallic and pearl, white pearl, silver metallic, black solid and red pearl. The single option is a solar panel mounted in the rear spoiler that supports charging of the car's 12V battery used for powering accessories.

Deliveries in Japan and the United States begin this December. In Europe, deliveries start in early 2011 to Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands. The zero-emission car is currently being built in Japan, but will also be produced in North America and Europe when new manufacturing facilities open in late 2012 and early 2013.

Nissan's innovative thinking extends beyond zero-emission mobility. Under the PURE DRIVE label, Nissan manufactures an extended line-up of environmentally friendly, internal combustion engine vehicles offering class-leading fuel efficiency supported by advanced green technologies. In Europe, the company will soon launch an advanced petrol-electric hybrid luxury sedan wearing the Infiniti badge, while hugely popular crossover vehicles, such as Nissan Qashqai and Nissan Juke, have created new and exciting vehicle segments dominated by Nissan. Next year will also see the arrival of thefourth generation Nissan Micra powered by a supercharged version of an all-new 1.2-litre three cylinder direct injection petrol engine with an Idling Stop system to offer spirited performance and CO2 emissions of just 95g/km.

Nissan has won the CoTY award in Europe before. In 1993, the UK-built Nissan Micra became the first car from a Japanese automaker to win the accolade and started Europe's love affair with the little car that continues today with the recent launch of the newest Nissan Micra model.

# # #