LEAF?s historic European Car of the Year title shows Alliance on right track

The Nissan LEAF is the 2011 European Car of the Year, the first all-electric vehicle with lithium ion batteries to win the award in the 47-year history of the annual competition, and we believe a vindication of the Alliance’s decision to pursue all-electric power as our vision for sustainable mobility.

The LEAF was chosen from a shortlist of seven vehicles launched this year from an original list of 41. Håkan Matson, president of the 57-strong jury of leading motoring journalists whose votes decide on the Car of the Year, described the Nissan LEAF as “a breakthrough for electric cars” and “the first electric car that can match conventional cars in many respects.”

Customers in Japan and the US will start to take deliveries of the electric vehicles LEAF this December. In Europe, deliveries start in early 2011 to customers in Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK. 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.

Technical innovation is one of the key criteria the jurors use to decide on the Car of the Year; they also have to consider design, comfort, safety, economy, handling, performance, functionality, environmental requirements, driver satisfaction, and price.

The LEAF made it to the shortlist, alongside another Alliance vehicle the Dacia Duster, with the judges noting that the Alliance “has made a big bet on electric cars. Cars like the Leaf might operate a change in public opinion … this pioneer is a practical proposition from the point of view of usability and performance.”

A big bet on Electric Vehicles? Absolutely. The LEAF is the first of eight electric vehicles with lithium ion batteries from the Alliance – Nissan has three more in the pipeline and Renault is on the verge of launching four Electric Vehicles, the Kangoo ZE light commercial, Fluence, Twizy and Zoe.

The Alliance has also signed more EV agreements worldwide with governments and commercial partners than any other carmaker and it is working hard to develop an EV infrastructure so that a zero-emission future becomes a reality rather than just a dream.

Our vision of sustainable mobility might begin with the award-winning LEAF but, as we build volume, sales momentum and economies of scale, we are confident that there is no end to where this particular revolutionary journey will take us.