NEW YORK – The all-electric, zero-emission Nissan Leaf was named 2011 World Car of the Year at the New York International Auto Show, edging out the BMW 5-Series and the Audi A8 for the top spot.

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

“It is a great joy that the world’s first, mass-marketed electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, has won the prestigious award of 2011 World Car of the Year,” said Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn.

The World Car Awards jurors described the Leaf as “the gateway to a brave new electric world from Nissan.”

The Leaf is a five-seat, five-door hatchback. It has a range of over 100 miles on a full charge, according to Nissan. 

“Its low center of gravity produced sharp turn-in with almost no body roll and no understeer,” the jurors concluded. “The good news? It feels just like a normal car, only quieter.”

The World Car of the Year competition was launched in 2004, with winners chosen by a panel of automotive journalists from Asia, Europe and North America.

The Nissan Leaf is available in Japan, the United States and select European markets. It will be released in other global markets in 2012. The vehicle is currently built at Nissan’s Oppama, Japan plant. It also will be manufactured at the company’s Smyrna, Tenn., plant in the U.S. in late 2012 and at Nissan’s Sunderland plant in the United Kingdom by early 2013.