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Nissan Leaf Takes Home World Car of the Year

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On: Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 12:21PM | By: Chris Weiss


Nissan Leaf Takes Home World Car of the Year

Electric vehicles and hybrids have really been one of the biggest stories in the automotive industry for the past year or two. And they've been dominating award shows to prove it.

While the Chevy Volt captured the "World Green Car of the Year," the Nissan Leaf one-upped it with the more general "2011 World Car of the Year" award. Of course, that victory wasn't quite as sweet as it could have been for Nissan because the Chevy Volt wasn't eligible (it will be in the running next year though, after launching overseas later this year).

The Nissan Leaf leapt right over the more luxurious, but not nearly as efficient, competitors—the Audi A8 and the BMW 5-Series—to take the prestigious award home. Nissan benefited from the fact that the Leaf is the world's first mass-produced electric vehicle at a time when fuel economy and clean driving are major factors in the auto market.

In a statement, the jurors explained their choice:

"The Leaf is the gateway to a brave new electric world from Nissan. This 5-seater, 5-door hatchback is the world's first, purpose-built, mass-produced electric car. Dropped onto a unique platform and body, the Leaf's lithium-ion battery modules and electric motor generate 108hp and 206 lb ft of torque, propelling the hatch from zero to 60mph in 11.5 seconds and a top speed of 90mph. It has a range of over 100 miles on a full charge claims Nissan, takes around 8 hours to recharge using 220-240V power supply and produces zero tailpipe emissions. Its low center of gravity produced sharp turn-in with almost no body roll and no understeer. The good news? It feels just like a normal car, only quieter."

Sixty-six jury members from 24 countries voted to select the winner. Last year, the Volkswagen Polo took home the honor.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn was quite pleased with the choice: "It is a great joy that the world’s first, mass-marketed electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF, has won the prestigious award of 2011 World Car of the Year. This accolade recognizes Nissan LEAF, a pioneer in zero-emission mobility, as comparable in its driving performance, quietness and superb handling to gas-powered cars. And it validates Nissan’s clear vision and the values of sustainable mobility that we want to offer to customers around the world."

Nissan better hope that customers are paying attention to the award. Though a feel-good news story, the world's first major electric vehicle hasn't exactly been a hit with consumers, selling only about 500 models through last month. Nissan plans to reopen its order books next month in an attempt to stimulate sales.




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