The European Car of the Year title is prestigious enough but for 2011, the Nissan Motor Company Ltd. scores a double whammy, with its all-electric Nissan Leaf. Why? Because the Nissan Leaf is the first electric car to win the title.
The Leaf, claimed to be the world’s first mass-marketed, affordable, zero-emission vehicle for the global market, beat 40 contenders to win motoring’s most important accolade. Fending off the best efforts of the likes of (among others) Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Dacia, Ford, Opel, Vauxhall and Volvo, the Leaf won the hearts and minds of a jury of 57 leading motoring journalists from 23 European countries.
The President of the Jury, Håkan Matson, said, “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.”
The Nissan Leaf has a compact, forward-mounted electric motor, driving its front wheels. The AC motor develops 80 kW power and 280 Nm of torque, giving a 145 km/h (90 mph) maximum speed. The Leaf’s Nissan-developed laminated lithium-ion battery has 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.
Leaf drivers can also expect a lot for their money. The leaf has regenerating braking, air conditioning, satellite navigation, a 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 one and only option is a solar panel, mounted in the rear spoiler, that supports charging of the car’s 12V battery that’s used used for powering accessories.
Japanese and US deliveries commence next month but UK and European drivers must contain their impatience until early next year. And what is the cost of a Leaf to be? According to Nissan’s web site, the price, including VAT at the new 20% rate, will be £23,990 in the UK, including the battery.