Nissan Leaf named World Car of the Year
WO R L D’S FIRST The Nissan Leaf, the world’s first affordable, high volume electric car has been named 2011 World Car of the Year, edging out the BMW 5-Series and Audi A8 for top spot. The announcement was made last week at the New York International Auto Show. This award to the five-door, five-seater hatchback that has a range of up to 160km between charges is the latest in a string of accolades. At present the Leaf is sold only in Japan, US and a few European markets and will go on general global release next year. Earlier the Nissan Leaf was adjudged the European Car of the Year, and drew strong criticism from some quarters as it is seen very much as a small niche model without general appeal and relevance. .
Toyota production on hold
JAPAN AFTERMATH Toyota Motor Corporation, hit hard by last month’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan that affected many of its component suppliers and some of its own factories, has now admitted it could be at least six months before production levels return to normal. This announcement by the world’s largest vehicle producer was the first public forecast to show how long it many take other Japanese car makers to recover. Its production in the US is running at only 30% of pre-quake levels and it is expected it will be forced to cut output in China to a similar level.
GM returning to top spot
SALES Strong sales by General Motors in China and other global markets could see it return to the position of the world’s largest vehicle maker by the end of 2011, overtaking Toyota, which went to the top of the pile in 2008. Toyota has been hit especially hard by the effects of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last month and ongoing damage to its brand image as hundreds of thousands of vehicles are recalled by dealers for quality related issues. At the end of 2010. General Motors was less than 30 000 units behind Toyota with sales of 8 390 000 to Toyota’s 8 410 000.
Isuzu talks to VW deal makers
DEALS Japanese commercial vehicle manufacturer Isuzu has denied that it is considering an equity tie-up with Volkswagen in the light of current talks between the two companies with regard to a truck engine supply deal.