Nissan Leaf Wins Green Car Journal's Vision Award

Posted: Jan 29, 2010 10:10 a.m.

At this week’s Washington Auto Show, Green Car Journal announced its Vision Award winner, the Nissan Leaf. The award recognizes the most eco-friendly vehicle that isn’t yet on sale but is in demonstration programs, in small volume production or in its early stages of commercialization.

The Leaf is an electric vehicle (EV) that can travel up to 100 mile between charges. Its lithium-ion battery pack can be charged using a 220-volt outlet or at a charge station. It is reported to make 107 horsepower and reach a top speed of around 90 mph -- impressive figures for an affordable EV.

Green Car Journal comments on the Leaf’s “approachable price,” noting: “Nissan will achieve this by leasing the Leaf's advanced lithium-ion batteries to the consumer as part of the vehicle transaction. The automaker says this will result in combined monthly payments and operating costs estimated to be about the same as the cost of a comparable internal combustion model and the gas to run it.”

To win the Vision Award, the Leaf beat out several finalists, including the Coda electric sedan, the Ford Focus battery-electric vehicle (BEV), the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell and Toyota's plug-in Prius. Previous winners have included the Chevrolet Volt and Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell.

The Leaf goes on sale in limited numbers later this year. According to Edmunds, “Nissan said that 38,000 people have signed up for Leaf interest list. These are not people who have made deposits, but the number is substantial and Nissan reps were clearly pleased with it.”

Autoblog Green notes that these numbers are “higher than previous numbers we've heard from Nissan about early interest (around 20,000 pre-orders expected) and production volumes (just 5,000), but we know it's also much easier to raise a hand than sign a lease. Still, it's a strong signal that the company vision could soon be a popular vehicle."

If you're in the market for a new car, check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars as well as this month's best car deals