Nissan LEAF Is 2011 World Car of the Year; Chevy Volt World Green Car

NEW YORK, New York, April 22, 2011 (ENS) – The all-electric, zero-emission Nissan LEAF won the 2011 World Car of the Year award Thursday at the New York International Auto Show, beating out the other two finalists – the Audi A8 and the BMW 5 Series. The LEAF is the first electric vehicle to win the award.

“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,” said Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn.

With 2011 World Car of the Year Nissan LEAF, from left: Brian Carolin, SVP, Sales Marketing for Nissan Americas holds winner’s trophy, World Car Co-chair Peter Lyon, Gerry Malloy, co-founder of the World Car Awards. (Photo courtesy New York Auto Show)

“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.”

The World Car of the Year award winners are selected and voted on by an international jury panel comprised of 66 top-level automotive journalists from 24 countries.

“The LEAF is the gateway to a brave new electric world from Nissan,” the jurors commented. “The good news? It feels just like a normal car, only quieter.”

Now in their seventh year, the annual World Car awards are intended to complement, not compete with, existing national and regional Car of the Year programs.

The World Car of the Year awards are administered by a non-profit association. There is no affiliation with, nor are the awards in any way influenced by any publication, auto show, automaker, or other commercial enterprise.

The other big award announced at the New York Auto Show – 2011 World Green Car of the Year – went to the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

The Volt was chosen for the final three from an initial entry list of 12 new vehicles from around the world. The two other finalists were the BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics Edition and the Nissan Leaf.

To be eligible for the overall World Car Award, the candidates must become available for sale on at least two continents during the period beginning January 1, 2010 and ending May 30, 2011.

The Chevrolet Volt will be eligible for the 2012 World Car Award as the extended-range hybrid goes on sale in Europe and Asia later this year.

“The selection of the Volt as the World Green Car is a further proof point of the fuel-efficient technologies that are now being offered by the Chevrolet brand around the world,” said Rick Scheidt, vice president of Chevrolet marketing.

He called the Volt “a truly remarkable vehicle with the potential to transform transportation around the globe.”

Rick Scheidt, VP Chevrolet Marketing, with 2011 World Green Car, the Chevy Volt (Photo courtesy New York Auto Show)

Due to the complexity of some of the green technologies, three experts were appointed by the World Car Awards Steering Committee to extensively review all documentation and specs associated with each candidate.

They were asked to create a short-list of finalists for review by the 66 jurors in their second round of voting in February. The ballots were tabulated by the international accounting firm KPMG.

The three experts – Phil Berg, representing North America; Dean Slavnich, representing Europe; and Tadashi Tateuchi, representing Asia – were unanimous in choosing the Volt as a top three finalist.

They commented, “The Chevrolet Volt is the first mass-produced series hybrid/extended range electric vehicle. GM developed it from a concept in a remarkably short period of time and brought it to market on schedule and largely meeting its original performance targets.”

“With the ability to drive 25-50 miles on electricity alone it will meet most drivers’ commuting needs mostly gasoline and emissions free,” the green car experts said. “After the battery is depleted, the ability to keep driving without having to wait hours for a recharge means that this car can be used anytime, anywhere.”

“America’s EPA has rated the Volt’s mileage at 93 mpg in EV-mode and at 37 mpg in gasoline mode,” the experts said. “It is reported to generate CO2 emissions of 52g/km and can be recharged by plugging into 120-240V outlets.”

Nissan is going a step further in New York, revealing a racing version of the Leaf – the concept Nissan Leaf NISMO RC.

“Combining the talents of NISMO, Nissan’s world renowned motorsports group, and engineers behind some of the company’s Super GT and FIA GT1 race teams, the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC will serve as a rolling laboratory for the accelerated development of EV and aerodynamic systems, as well as a platform for the development of new green motorsports series,” said Carlos Tavares, chairman of Nissan Americas, and the keynote speaker for the New York Auto Show.

Aiming to be the world leader in zero-emission vehicles, Nissan, with its Alliance partner, Renault, has formed partnerships with more than 90 governments, cities and other organizations around the world to develop and produce EVs and lithium-ion batteries and also to promote sustainable mobility.

The award-winning cars were announced at a press-only day at the New York Auto Show. The opening day ceremonies for the public will be held Saturday morning at the Javits Center.

The show features an EV Pavilion where visitors can experience zero-emission vehicles for themselves.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2011. All rights reserved.