Nissan Motor Co.'s zero emission vehicle and the 100 percent electric car Nissan Leaf has been awarded the title of European Car of the Year for 2011. Leaf, thus, becomes the first all-electric car to take the prestigious title.
The Leaf, which stands for Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car, is a 5-door hatchback electric car made in United States, with a mileage rating of 99 miles per gallon (mpg). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also dubbed the electric car as the best for fuel efficiency and the environment.
The Leaf beat a total of 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, the President of the Jury said in a statement.
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 Car of the Year Jury.
Deliveries of Leaf in Japan and the United States are set to begin this December. Deliveries in European countries like Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands will start early 2011. 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 has reached its goal of 20,000 reservations for its all-electric Leaf three months ahead of schedule. No further reservations will be taken until next year. Another round of reservations will begin in 2011, after current reservations and orders have been processed.
In United States, Nissan has priced its Leaf at $32,780 plus a not-yet-announced destination fee. As an all-electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit. This brings the price down to $25,280.
The pricing in Europe has not been disclosed. However, it is expected to be on the same lines as the pricing elsewhere.
The governments across the world have set aside billions of dollars in the form of subsidies for early adopters of these alternative energy cars and to boost production of batteries for such vehicles despite persisting doubts about how many people will actually buy them.
The Department of Energy said it is investing $2.85 billion in electric vehicles of which $2 billion will go to help U.S. carmakers produce advanced vehicle batteries and drive train components. Around $400 million will be invested to buy, test, and deploy different types of electric vehicles in the marketplace, and $300 million in cost-share projects under the 'Clean Cities' program.