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Nissan LEAF wins 2011 European Car of the Year

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The 100% electric Nissan LEAF has been awarded 2011 European Car of the Year, the first electric vehicle to ever win the award.

In past years the award has gone to many cars that have hardly demonstrated huge innovation, so it’s excellent to see that Nissan’s electric car vision has been recognised with the award.

Green-Car-Guide’s founder and editor Paul Clarke says “We’re delighted that the LEAF has won the Car of the Year award. We’ve driven the car throughout its development over the past couple of years and it’s been obvious that the LEAF was going to be a very impressive product. Nissan has shown real leadership by investing so heavily in order to be the global pioneer with an all-electric hatchback. This will hopefully send a strong signal to consumers that the LEAF is a car to be taken very seriously.”

The Nissan LEAF will be the world’s first mass-marketed, affordable, zero-emission vehicle for the global market. It beat 40 contenders to win the Car of the Year award.

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 motoring journalists from 23 European countries.

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.’s President and CEO Carlos Ghosn said: “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. 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.”

The Nissan LEAF is powered by a compact electric motor in the front of the car, which drives the front wheels. The AC motor develops a power output of 109 PS and 280 Nm of torque, enough for a maximum speed of 90 mph. The electric motor is powered by a Nissan-developed laminated lithium-ion battery with an output of more than 90kW. The car has a range of more than 100 miles (New European Driving Cycle) between charges.

The vehicle is fully equipped with features such as regenerative 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 colours 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. The first UK customers will get their LEAFs in March, priced at £23,990

The LEAF is currently being built in Japan, but will also be produced – along with its batteries – in Sunderland, England from early 2013.

See our most recent Nissan LEAF road test .