A panel of 59 automotive journalists from 23 countries has named the 2011 Nissan LEAF as their choice for 2011 European Car of the Year (ECOTY). This marks the first time an electric vehicle has taken the prestigious ECOTY honor. In winning the annual competition, the LEAF amassed a total of 257 points, besting the Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback (248) and Opel/Vauxhall Meriva minivan as well as the Ford C-Max/Grand C-Max (224 points), Citroen C3/DS3 (175), Volvo S60/V60 (145) and Dacia Duster (132). The Nissan LEAF is set to go on sale in select European markets next spring.

In making the announcement, Hakan Matson, president of the jury, Car of the Year, noted: "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."

In his acceptance statement, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s President and CEO Carlos Ghosn indicated that it is just the beginning of his firm's EV efforts. "This award recognizes the pioneering zero-emission Nissan LEAF as competitive to conventional cars in terms of safety, performance, spaciousness and handling. It also reflects Nissan's standing as an innovative and exciting brand with a clear vision of the future of transportation, which we call sustainable mobility. With three other electric vehicles in the pipeline from Nissan -- and with the imminent market introduction of four additional electric vehicles from our Alliance partner Renault -- the Nissan LEAF represents a significant first step toward a zero-emission future."

In January, a panel of 50 automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada will formally name their selections for the 2011 North American Car of the Year and Truck of the Year in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

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