Have electric cars finally hit the mainstream?

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This years Car of the Year is the Nissan Leaf! Is this an important moment in motoring history?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Well first you need to look at the cars awarded this prize over the years since 1964 when the competition started  – how many of them were actually any good or ‘pushed the envelope’ of car design?
 
European Car of the Year
Year Winner Pts Second Pts Third Pts
1964 Rover 2000 76 Mercedes 600 64 Hillman Imp 31
1965 Austin 1800 78 Autobianchi Primula 51 Ford Mustang 18
1966 Renault 16 98 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow 81 Oldsmobile Toronado 59
1967 Fiat 124 144 BMW 1600 69 Jensen FF 61
1968 NSU Ro 80 197 Fiat 125 133 Simca 1100 94
1969 Peugeot 504 119 BMW 2500/2800 77 Alfa Romeo 1750 76
1970 Fiat 128 235 Autobianchi A112 96 Renault 12 79
1971 Citroën GS 233 Volkswagen K70 121 Citroën SM 105
1972 Fiat 127 239 Renault 15/17 107 Mercedes 350SL 96
1973 Audi 80 114 Renault 5 109 Alfa Romeo Alfetta 95
1974 Mercedes 450S 115 Fiat X1/9 99 Honda Civic 90
1975 Citroën CX 229 Volkswagen Golf 164 Audi 50 136
1976 Simca 1307-1308 192 BMW 3-series 144 Renault 30 TS 107
1977 Rover 3500 157 Audi 100 138 Ford Fiesta 135
1978 Porsche 928 261 BMW 7-series 231 Ford Granada 203
1979 Simca-Chrysler Horizon 251 Fiat Ritmo 239 Audi 80 181
1980 Lancia Delta 369 Opel Kadett 301 Peugeot 505 199
1981 Ford Escort 326 Fiat Panda 308 Austin Metro 255
1982 Renault 9 335 Opel Ascona 304 Volkswagen Polo 252
1983 Audi 100 410 Ford Sierra 386 Volvo 760 157
1984 Fiat Uno 346 Peugeot 205 325 Volkswagen Golf 156
1985 Opel Kadett/Vauxhall Astra 326 Renault 25 261 Lancia Thema 191
1986 Ford Scorpio 337 Lancia Y10 291 Mercedes-Benz 200-300E 273
1987 Opel Omega/Vauxhall Carlton 275 Audi 80 238 BMW 7-series 175
1988 Peugeot 405 464 Citroën AX 252 Honda Prelude 234
1989 Fiat Tipo 356 Opel Vectra 261 Volkswagen Passat 194
1990 Citroën XM 390 Mercedes-Benz SL 215 Ford Fiesta 214
1991 Renault Clio 312 Nissan Primera 258 Opel Calibra 183
1992 Volkswagen Golf 276 Opel Astra 231 Citroën ZX 213
1993 Nissan Micra 338 Fiat Cinquecento 304 Renault Safrane 244
1994 Ford Mondeo 290 Citroën Xantia 264 Mercedes-Benz C 192
1995 Fiat Punto 370 Volkswagen Polo 292 Opel Omega 272
1996 Fiat Bravo/Brava 378 Peugeot 406 363 Audi A4 246
1997 Renault Mégane Scénic 405 Ford Ka 293 Volkswagen Passat 248
1998 Alfa Romeo 156 454 Volkswagen Golf 266 Audi A6 265
1999 Ford Focus 444 Opel Astra 269 Peugeot 206 248
2000 Toyota Yaris 344 Fiat Multipla 325 Opel Zafira 265
2001 Alfa Romeo 147 238 Ford Mondeo 237 Toyota Prius 229
2002 Peugeot 307 286 Renault Laguna 244 Fiat Stilo 243
2003 Renault Mégane 322 Mazda 6 302 Citroën C3 214
2004 Fiat Panda 281 Mazda 3 241 Volkswagen Golf 241
2005 Toyota Prius 406 Citroën C4 267 Ford Focus 228
2006 Renault Clio 256 Volkswagen Passat 251 Alfa Romeo 159 212
2007 Ford S-Max 235 Opel/Vauxhall Corsa 233 Citroën C4 Picasso 222
2008 Fiat 500 385 Mazda2 325 Ford Mondeo 202
2009 Opel/Vauxhall Insignia 321 Ford Fiesta 320 Volkswagen Golf 223
2010 Volkswagen Polo 347 Toyota iQ 337 Opel/Vauxhall Astra 221
2011 Nissan Leaf 257[2] Alfa Romeo Giulietta 248 Opel/Vauxhall Meriva 244

(data from Wikipedia)

 Not many classics there are there! In many cases the car that comes second or third is arguably the better car as well – for example in 1986 The Ford Scorpio won (a total dog of a car) and 1989 the Fiat Tipo (it dissolved)!

The awards had started so well! The first winner was the Rover 2000, a classic design and well ahead of anything else around at that time, subsequent classics like the NSU RO80 with it’s wankel engine in 1968 (OK the engine was crap, but the idea was brilliant). And the Rover 3500 in 1977 (my Dad had one – clever design but built by morons!) It’s all got just a bit mainstream since then with an occasional ‘clever’ car – Prius in 2005 (clever, even if it is awful).

So the Nissan Leaf has become the first electric car to be crowned Car of the Year – do we or should we care? Probably, it is a step forward in car design even if it is also flawed. It will only be a matter of days before we start getting it advertised at every junction as the Green saviour of the planet! I still believe that pure electric cars are flawed just as much as hybrids, they will however become ‘the car’ to be seen in by some of the ‘beautiful people’ – good luck to them! 
So probably the first justifiable winner for a good few years!
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2 thoughts on “Have electric cars finally hit the mainstream?

    Richard Baker said:
    December 3, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Interesting anecdote about the 1977 Rover 3500, Simon. It was a great design but a typical British Leyland production mash-up: bodies were welded together in one plant, painted in another – so the shells had to travel outside before they got sprayed. Result: early cars had rust problems because the shells were contaminated when they were painted!

    Simon Dare responded:
    December 3, 2010 at 9:30 am

    That would be why my fathers car had to be resprayed then! The paint literally peeled off it in sheets!

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