60 jurors, including chief editors of Japan’s most influential automotive publications and manufacturer representatives, gathered last week to elect Japan’s 2012 Car of the Year. The winner: Nissan’s electric Leaf, which won with a near record-breaking 522 votes.
Having already won the European Car of the Year and the World Car of the Year awards, the result means that the Leaf is the first vehicle to win all three major international awards in a one-year period. The Leaf missed out on the trophy in North America after the Chevrolet Volt won in January this year.
46 of the 60 jurors gave the Leaf 10 votes, the maximum number of votes that may be awarded to any one car. The Leaf’s success is seen by many as testament to the fact that electric-powered vehicles are highly rated by industry experts and are ushering in a new era of emissions-free transportation.
In accepting the trophy, Nissan COO Toshiyuki Shiga said, “Today is a very auspicious day for Nissan in that we have won the Japan COTY award on December 3, exactly one year since we launched the car at our new Yokohama HQs. When Nissan started development of the Leaf some four years ago, it was not classed as a niche car by our product planning, but as a mainstream model signifying our commitment to electrically powered cars.”
“We have sold 20,000 Leafs and also delivered on our promise of affordable, zero-emission mobility on a global scale,” said Carlos Ghosn, Nissan president and CEO, in a prepared release. “This award is as much a win for Nissan as it is for our customers. All these accolades show that zero-emission vehicles can clearly be alternatives to conventional vehicles.”
The Japan Import Car of the Year award was picked up by the Mercedes Benz C-Class after a close-fought battle with the Peugeot 508, while the Japan COTY Executive Committee Special Prize was awarded to the Mazda Demio (Mazda2) which employs the company’s new Skyactiv engine technology.