Wheels24

Leaf is Japan's Car of the Year

2011-12-05 07:46

TOKYO, Japan - Nissan has won Japan's Car of the Year at the Tokyo auto show with its battery-powered Leaf model - the first time such a vehicle has picked up the award.

Electric cars and vehicles controlled remotely by a smart phone are features at the 2011 show which will run until  December 11 with 179 exhibitors from a dozen countries.

The Leaf is a zero-emissions vehicle fitted with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Since its market launch at the end of 2010 about 20 000 have been sold, notably in Japan and in the US. They are a major feature of the current "global warming" conference in Durban.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said: "All these accolades show that zero-emissions vehicles can clearly be competitive alternatives to conventional ones."

REMOTE-CONTROLLED RIDE

Nissan, part-owned by Renault, has invested the equivalent of about R40-billion in developing electric cars. Ghosn said that in five years Nissan and Renault would have sold 1.5-million electric vehicles and estimated that the world market for such cars would be 15% in 10 years.

Hybrid vehicles would also see an increase from five to 10% over the same period.

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

It has installed automotive telematics in the Leaf so drivers can control the aircon and check on state of battery charge with a smart phone or personal computer.