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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Nissan Leaf EV wins Japanese car of the year

TOKYO: Nissan won Car of the Year Japan 2011/2012 at the Tokyo Motor Show on Saturday for its Leaf electric model, its makers said, the first time an electric vehicle has picked up the award.

In addition to that, the Nissan Leaf was also named the 2012 RJC Car of the Year, presented by the Automotive Researchers’ & Journalists’ Conference of Japan. The vehicle had previously been offered the following awards: the Japan Automotive Hall of Fame’s 2011-2012 Car of the Year, the 2011 European Car of the Year and the 2011 World Car of the Year.

“We have sold 20,000 Nissan LEAFs and also delivered on our promise of affordable, zero-emission mobility on a global scale. This award is as much a win for Nissan as it is for our customers,” said Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn. “All these accolades show that zero-emission vehicles can clearly be competitive alternatives to conventional ones.”


Electric cars with cutting-edge green technology and vehicles remote-controlled by smartphones have been a star feature at this year's show, which runs till Dec 11 and features 179 exhibitors from a dozen countries.

"Nissan is proud to announce that its 100 percent electric Leaf car has won the Japanese Car of the Year prize," Japan's second-largest automaker said in a statement.

The Nissan Leaf electric is a zero-emission vehicle fitted with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Since its launch on the market at the end of last year, some 20,000 models have been sold, notably in Japan and in the US.

"All these accolades show that zero-emission vehicles can clearly be competitive alternatives to conventional ones," Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn said.

Nissan, which is part-owned by France's Renault, has invested some 4 billion euros ($5 bn) in the development of these electric cars.

Ghosn said that in five years, Nissan and Renault will have sold 1.5 million of the vehicles, and estimated the world market for electric cars would jump from 0.05 percent today, to 15 percent in ten years.

The hybrid (fuel and electric) would also see an increase from 1 percent today to between 5 and 10 percent over the same period, Ghosn added.

Nissan is trailing several electric concept vehicles at the Motor Show, including the Pivo 3, which can be remotely manoeuvered with a smart phone.

It has installed automotive telematics in the Leaf electric car, allowing drivers to remotely control the air conditioning system and check on a car's battery using their smart phone or personal computer.

Several major foreign manufacturers who skipped the last show are also back this year, including Germany's Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche; French carmakers Renault and Peugeot-Citroen and Britain's Jaguar and Land Rover.

In a related development, the US-based Consumer Reports said drivers of the Chevrolet Volt are the most satisfied in the US.

The hybrid-electric model, produced by General Motors, edged out several other top-performing cars such as the V8-powered Dodge Challenger and the Porsche 911 to take the title, awarded by Consumer Reports Dec 1.

A total of 93 percent of respondents who own the Volt said they would definitely buy it again, compared to 91 percent who owned its two closest competitors, Consumer Reports said.

While the Volt's triumph would ordinarily be a huge selling point for the model over rivals such as the Nissan Leaf, the survey was conducted long before a recent investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into its battery safety.

General Motors said it could buy back models of the Chevrolet Volt from owners as a result of the ongoing investigation into battery fires.

The Detroit giant said it would buy back the models from owners who are concerned their car may catch fire, the latest move in an escalating crisis over the model's battery pack.

Earlier last week, General Motors confirmed that the NHTSA had opened an investigation into the pioneering vehicle after three fires broke out in Volts following side-impact testing.

Most worryingly for users, the fires began to appear from the batteries with a delay, over seven days or weeks after the tests, prompting General Motors to offer free loan vehicles to users.

General Motors says that while no fires have broken out in the real world, it is determined to keep customers happy, adding that if a recall of the 6,000 Volts on the road is deemed necessary, every vehicle will be retrofitted with a new battery.

Engineers are now working to identify which part of the extreme stress testing could have caused a problem with the vehicle's massive power pack and could make revisions to future models.

Nissan says that it has not seen any similar fires in its Leaf. - Relaxnews

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