Yokohama, Japan – The Nissan Leaf has been named the 2011 European Car of the Year, the first time in the 47 years of the award that it has gone to an electric vehicle.

The 57-member jury, consisting of leading motoring journalists from 23 European countries, also considered vehicles from brands such as Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Dacia, Ford, Opel/Vauxhall and Volvo.

“The jury acknowledged today that the Nissan Leaf is a breakthrough for electric cars,” said jury president Håkan Matson. “Nissan Leaf is the first (electric vehicle) that can match conventional cars in many respects.”

The all-electric Leaf will begin deliveries in Japan and the United States this December. In Europe, deliveries will start in early 2011 to Portugal, Ireland, the U.K. and the Netherlands. It is currently being built in Japan but will also be produced in North America and Europe when new manufacturing facilities open in late 2012 and early 2013.

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