Environmental Car of the Year

Car of the Year jurists have, not for the first time, devalued their award. The Nissan Leaf may well be Car of the Year 2013, when it will be in production, but climbing aboard environmental zealots’ bandwagon makes 57 “leading” motoring journalists who voted look opportunist. For the first time in its 47 year history the award it has gone to an all-electric battery car. It is also the first time it has ever gone to a car you can’t buy.

“The world’s first mass-marketed, affordable, zero-emission vehicle for the global market beat 40 contenders to win motoring’s most important accolade,” trills the COTY announcement. Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Dacia, Ford, Opel/Vauxhall and Volvo, who were the leading contenders must feel bemused. “The jury acknowledged that the Nissan LEAF is a breakthrough for electric cars. Nissan LEAF is the first EV that can match conventional cars in many respects,” said Håkan Matson, President of the Jury, Car of the Year.

No wonder he said, “…in many respects.” By the same token in many respects it does nothing of the kind. It has a range of only a hundred miles before it needs an electric top-up of several hours. They might as well award the title to a golf trolley. This blog has highlighted the doubts over all-electric cars before. The head of research at Mercedes-Benz told the Fleet Street Group that the only viable electric cars were only satisfactory for cities. Everybody would need a second car to drive anywhere else. Until batteries develop in a way we still cannot see, such zero-emission cars will be zero-practical.

The Leaf will have regenerative braking, air conditioning, satellite navigation, parking camera and IT and telematics systems. What it calls “Innovative connectivity will allow owners to set charging functions to monitor the current (sic) state of charge and the remaining battery capacity, as well as to heat or cool the interior remotely via mobile phone or computer.” Just don’t try all these at once in winter, or the thing will never start. COTY jurists should really get out more.