NEW YORK CITY--At a press conference hosted by Bridgestone Corp. and the New York International Auto Show, theNissan Leaf was declared the 2011 World Car of the Year.

The Nissan Leaf was chosen from an initial entry list of 39 new vehicles from throughout the world, then a short list of 10, then three finalists: the Nissan Leaf, the Audi A8 and the BMW 5 Series.

Ghosn calls the car “The world's first, mass-marketed electric vehicle.”

The Leaf is a five-seater, five-door hatchback and the jurors said it was is the world's first, purpose-built, mass-produced electric car. The Leaf has lithium-ion battery modules and electric motors that generate 108 horsepower and 206 pounds feet of torque, propelling the hatch from zero to 60 miles-per-hour in 11.5 seconds and a top speed of 90 miles per hour. It has a range of more than 100 miles on a full charge, Nissan says, and takes around 8 hours to recharge using 220-240 volt power supply and produces zero tailpipe emissions. Its low center of gravity produced sharp turn-in with almost no body roll and no understeer.

To be eligible for the overall World Car award, the candidates must become available for sale on at least two continents during the period beginning Jan. 1, 2010 and ending May 30, 2011.

Previous World Car of the Year winners were the Volkswagen Polo in 2010, Volkswagen Golf in 2009, the Mazda2 / Mazda Demio in 2008, the Lexus LS460 in 2007, the BMW 3-Series in 2006 and the Audi A6 in 2005.