• Nissan LEAF becomes 2012 Japan Car of the Year, adding to accolades including 2011 World Car of the Year and 2011 European Car of the Year.
• Renault Kangoo Z.E. is 2012 International Van of the Year – the first time that an electric vehicle has received the award.
• Prizes represent a “clean sweep” for Renault-Nissan, consumers and the planet
Zero-emission vehicles from the Renault-Nissan Alliance have won the auto industry’s top accolades two years in a row, beating dozens of conventionally powered cars and vans competing for the prestigious titles.
On Saturday during a ceremony at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, the Nissan LEAF became Japan's Car of the Year — the first time a zero-emission car has won the prestigious award. Last month, the Nissan LEAF won the 2012 Car of the Year award from RJC, a panel of Japan's top automotive researchers and journalists. And earlier this year, the Nissan LEAF became the 2011 European Car of the Year and the 2011 World Car of the Year — in all cases scoring more points than competitors powered by a single, non-renewable fuel source.
On Nov. 25, the Renault Kangoo Z.E. became the first electric vehicle to be named International Van of the Year. Thanks to a floor-mounted battery, the Kangoo Z.E. delivers the same load capacity and spaciousness of the internal-combustion Kangoo – and the former can be charged with purely renewable energy for greatly reduced carbon emissions.
“These awards to both Renault and Nissan represent a ‘clean sweep’ for zero-emission vehicles and a milestone for consumers and the environment,” said Renault-Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn. “Zero-emission vehicles can clearly be competitive alternatives to conventional ones — whether you use them as delivery vans or everyday commuter cars.”
Zero-emission vehicles radically redefine “normal”
The awards come from objective, independent automotive critics and industry reporters who rigorously cross-tested Renault and Nissan’s first-generation EVs against some of the most established internal-combustion vehicles in the industry.
After testing the Renault Kangoo Z.E. and the Nissan LEAF, jurors were impressed with the vehicles’ torque, responsiveness and fun-to-drive simplicity. They also enjoyed the intuitive user interface and commented about how “normal” the vehicles felt, despite state-of-the-art powertrains that consume no petroleum whatsoever.
The Nissan LEAF “feels just like a normal car, only quieter,” said jurors when Nissan beat 39 conventional cars to become the World Car of the Year. The 66 judges were senior automotive journalists from 24 countries.
A separate panel of jurors echoed the sentiment on Thursday in naming the Renault Kangoo Z.E. the International Van of the Year. They emphasized the price of the Kangoo Z.E., which starts at at €20,000 excluding VAT in Europe (before incentive). The battery leases for €72 excluding VAT a month for 36 months and 10,000 km.
“Renault brings the electric van within the reach of the normal European van user, thereby delivering a major contribution to environmental sustainability, one of the most important issues of the transport of goods by road nowadays,” jury chairman Pieter Wieman said at the 14th International Trailer Show in Belgium.
Built in Maubeuge, France, Kangoo Z.E. offers the flexible configuration options of its internal-combustion cousin, the Kangoo. Both can be ordered in load volumes ranging from 3 m3 to 4.6 m3.
Renault received a commitment last month from 19 French companies to buy more than 15,000 Kangoo Z.E.s. French postal service La Poste ordered 10,000 – the biggest single EV order ever.
Renault-Nissan establishes zero-emission leadership
The Renault-Nissan Alliance aims to produce 1.5 million electric vehicles by 2016 and remain the leader in zero-emission technology. The Alliance has begun rolling out a family of electric vehicles, starting with the Nissan LEAF.
The Nissan LEAF was launched in December 2010 and has become the world’s most popular electric vehicle. Nissan has delivered more than 20,000 LEAFs worldwide. The five-passenger LEAF is on sale in Japan, USA and Western Europe.
The Kangoo Z.E. is the first EV from Renault, which within the next year will also also launch the Fluence Z.E. family sedan, the Twizy urban two-seat commuter vehicle, and the ZOE subcompact.
All EVs from the Renault-Nissan Alliance store energy in a lithium-ion battery that meets or exceeds all environmental and safety standards wherever they are sold. The vehicles can be “topped off” whenever drivers want to plug in, or they can be fully recharged overnight from the convenience of the driver's home, garage or parking deck.