Nissan Leaf Europe’s Top Electric Car

The Chevy Volt may have garnered Motortrend’s Car of the Year, but not so fast–here comes the Nissan Leaf, which now bears the distinction of being the 2011 European Car of the Year.

According to a recent release, “the world’s first mass-marketed, affordable, zero-emission vehicle for the global market” beat out 40 contenders to win “motoring’s most important accolade” (well, Europe’s, at least). This is the first time in the 47-year history of the competition that the award has gone to an electric vehicle–signaling a sea-change in global transportation, perhaps, if the car-buying public proves as enthusiastic about the Leaf as its European critics.

Nissan Leaf

image via European Car of the Year

To win this honor, the Nissan Leaf narrowly beat out  the Alfa Romeo Giulietta (248 points) and the Opel/Vauxhall Meriva (244 points) with a total of 257 points. The mass-market appeal of the car was instrumental in jury selections, resulting in an award of 20 points alone. In spite of the limits imposed by the lack of available charging infrastructure in Europe, the jury decided that the Leaf represents a technical and commercial innovation that might satisfy many potential consumers, especially where public incentives will reduce the asking price.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.