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Nissan Leaf takes European Car of the Year

The Nissan Leaf has been named the 2011 European Car of the Year, becoming the first electric car to take the award.

The announcement was made November 29, with the jury describing the battery-powered Leaf as "a breakthrough for electric cars."

The other finalists were the Ford C-Max/Grand C-Max, the Citroën C3/DS3, the Volvo S60 and V60 and the Dacia Duster.

The prestigious award, which is presented by automotive journalists from 23 European countries, is an important win for the Leaf, which lost out to its electric rival the Chevrolet Volt at the Green Car of the Year Award presented earlier in November on the first day of the Los Angeles Auto Show.

However, in Europe the Leaf managed to garner the most points from the 59 jury members who decided the winner, despite splitting opinion to the point that several jurors placed it last.

"The Nissan Leaf was my own winner this year, so I'm delighted to see it win," said Steve Cropley, a UK-based automotive journalist who was on the judging panel.

"It does more than any rival to "normalise" electric cars."

The Japanese-made Leaf is set to hit Portuguese roads in January, followed by Ireland in February and the UK in March, with running costs anticipated at less than €1.05 per 100 km in Portugal, less than €1.20 per 100km in Ireland and less than €1.59 per 100 km in the UK.

Last year's European Car of the Year winner was the Volkswagen Polo.